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July 15, 2013

Procter & Gamble rose and fell in Chenango County

It was just what Chenango County didn’t need or want to hear in July 1993 — more bad economic news. 

Procter & Gamble, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based health and beauty products conglomerate, announced plans Thursday, July 15, to close 30 plants and cut 13,000 jobs worldwide. Three P&G facilities in the Norwich area made up Chenango County’s largest employer, with 1,236 jobs. The waiting began for many to find out how these worldwide cuts would affect the area.

Regarding the possible cuts, then-Norwich Mayor Marjorie Chomyszak said, “We’ve already been hit in the solar plexus and then some,” referring to just a year earlier when Victory Markets Inc. moved to Utica, taking 500 jobs with it. Other cuts by Simmonds Precision and the National Bank and Trust Co. put another 100 out of work.

It turned out to be a Black Monday for Norwich on Sept. 13, when P&G announced at a news conference at its Eaton Avenue building that 320 local positions would be cut. It meant the closing of the Norwich P&G headquarters on Eaton Avenue, and it affected employment at the Woods Corners product development and chemical manufacturing facility north of the city. The North Norwich production plant was not affected. More than half of the jobs were moved to Cincinnati.

G. Gilbert Cloyd, vice president of pharmaceuticals and research and development at P&G, said the cuts were not because of financial problems but because of anticipated changes in the industry, prompted by President Clinton’s healthcare reform plans. P&G also announced plans to bring about 250 product development jobs to Woods Corners by the year 2000. The company also promised to help the community find new tenants for the Eaton Avenue building.

Part of that plan came true less than a year later, when it was reported by The Daily Star on March 31, 1994, that the process of hiring 100 at Woods Corners had begun. Then, on Jan. 11, 1995 P&G announced that it would donate the Eaton Avenue building to the Chenango County Area Corp., an economic development group formed in 1966. P&G also set up a $5.8 million fund to maintain the building, to then be called the Eaton Center.

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