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York County-based P.H. Glatfelter announced Tuesday, Feb. 6, that it is considering the sale of the company’s specialty papers division, including its location in Spring Grove.

“As we plan Glatfelter’s direction, we intend to focus resources on growing our engineered materials businesses, namely Advanced Airlaid Materials and Composite Fibers,” Eileen L. Beck, vice president of Human Resources, wrote in a statement.

“We believe Specialty Papers and its employees, customers and communities would benefit from stewardship that continues to invest in improving the business with a strategy that singularly focuses on Specialty Papers’ many strengths and attributes,” she added.

More: Glatfelter equipment malfunction causes gas leak panic throughout York County

More: Glatfelter paper company cutting 120 jobs

The company has more than 750 employees at its Spring Grove facility, according to Beck.

They also have 120 employees at its headquarters in York City.

Glatfelter also has specialty paper divisions in Chillicothe, Ohio — with more than 1,000 employees — and Fremont, Ohio — with about 45 employees.

The company is in the early stages of the process, Beck wrote, and there is no timeline for a decision. She said Glatfelter will continue to operate as usual, “with the ongoing support and hard work of our dedicated specialty papers’ employees.”

Beck added that the company has been operating this business unit since 1864.

More: Glatfelter completing $63 million natural gas conversion

Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, said the announcement was unexpected, but it's important to note this is just the first step in what could be a lengthy process.

He said he hoped that recent renovations to the Spring Grove facility would make it an attractive enough asset for Glatfelter to keep or for another specialty-paper operator to buy and use.

The company recently completed $63 million renovations to convert from coal to natural gas boilers. Those renovations were subsidized by $8 million in state grants.

Earlier layoffs: Glatfelter announced last summer it was eliminating 120 jobs from its specialty papers business unit.

Improved efficiency and “market weakness” led to the decision to shut down a paper machine at the company’s Chillicothe, Ohio, plant, where 50 hourly employees were cut, according to a news release.

Seventy salaried positions also were eliminated, the company said. The Central Penn Business Journal reports 30 of those jobs are at the Spring Grove plant.

“The supply-demand imbalance in the printing and writing markets continues to put pressure on industry operating rates and selling prices,” company chairman and CEO Dante C. Parrini said in a July 2017 news release.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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