Our Opinion: RR Donnelley closing marks a major loss

RR Donnelley, one of Jefferson City’s major manufacturers, is closing the book on its local operation.

The printing and information services company told its 500 employees Thursday morning it will close its doors Oct. 1.

The local facility was established at 321 Wilson Drive, off Industrial Drive, in 1964 as part of Von Hoffmann Press. It was acquired by RR Donnelley in 2007.

The announcement surprised employees — including many with years of employment in the double digits — and community leaders.

“We were shocked,” said a woman whose husband has worked at the plant for 15 years.” We knew it would come someday, but didn’t know it would be this soon.”

Randy Allen, president and CEO of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, said: “Just a couple of months ago, the leaders of the local Donnelley plant were saying how contracts were looking good.”

The demise of RR Donnelley’s local plant will be devastating to hundreds of area residents, who will be returned to the job market at varying stages of their careers.

Little in the way of silver lining is apparent, but there are some glimmers.

Allen said the local chamber will join “with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and their rapid response team to work with employees on other opportunities.”

And, he said the 700,000-square-foot local facility, which includes rail spur access, might be marketable for other prospective industries.

Those possibilities, however, offer little solace at this time.

The closing of RR Donnelley is a loss.

It will diminish economic development vitality and related tax revenue.

It will mark the withdrawal of an active corporate citizen. RR Donnelley and its employees have been involved with recycling and beautification projects, as well as sponsorship of a range of community events.

And, most importantly, it will leave hundreds of area residents unemployed. Their ability not only to spend and support the local economy, but simply to provide for their families will be a challenge.

Count us among those saddened by this announcement.

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