The University of Arkansas at Monticello on June 24 will host a roundtable discussion in an effort to reach out to members of the Crossett community, particularly those affected by upcoming plant closings.

The meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Media Center in the McGoogan Building at UAM’s Crossett campus.

Georgia Pacific announced on June 4 that it would close its bleached board, pulping and extrusion operations in Crossett. As a result, approximately 550 employees will lose their jobs.

“This news hit hard in our region,” said UAM Chancellor Karla Hughes. “We’ve been working to identify how we can help those affected by GP layoffs who may be in the process of applying to college or a technical program. It’s our responsibility to educate Arkansans, and when your family’s income changes dramatically, that shouldn’t derail your educational goals.”

The roundtable discussion is designed to begin a conversation about responding to the closure as a university and identify opportunities to collaborate as a community. Hughes is expected to outline ways UAM plans to assist displaced workers.

UAM-Crossett houses financial counselors, admissions representatives and academic advisors during weekday business hours. Based upon information gleaned from the roundtable discussion, a future event highlighting these and other university resources will be designed to best meet needs of displaced workers.

Hughes said staff will assist potential students of any UAM campus whose parents (or themselves) are affected by the GP closures.

“Our goal is to make sure we can ease the process of those employees or their children whose academic plans for next year have just been disrupted,” Hughes said.

In addition to assisting prospective students with admissions and financial aid, the university is supporting those seeking new employment.

“The GP closures will have a major economic impact in Ashley County and in our region of the state,” said Linda Rushing, vice chancellor of the Crossett campus. “We are a close-knit community in Southeast Arkansas and we will pull together to capitalize on our resources. UAM is committed to using its available resources to assist our community and region during this time.”

UAM’s staff in Crossett have been offering career advising and resumé-writing help to newly displaced workers, and Rushing encourages others to utilize these services.

Prospective employers who need space for testing and interviews have been using space on the UAM College of Technology at Crossett campus since just after the GP announcement.

Those affected by the GP closures who are interested in, or who have already applied to any UAM campus are encouraged to contact the Crossett campus with questions about applying, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and opportunities for institutional scholarships. For more information, contact Linda Rushing, Vice Chancellor of UAM College of Technology -Crossett at [email protected] or (870) 460-2001.

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