Hallmark Closing Topeka Facility

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Hallmark is consolidating its Kansas operations, which means Topeka's facility will close.

The company announced its plans Tuesday afternoon. It says greeting card and envelope production from its Topeka Production Center will move to its Lawrence facility, while production of specialty items such as stickers, ribbons and bows will move from Lawrence to its Leavenworth facility.

The Topeka center will close by the end of 2013. It employs about 500 people. Among all its facilities, Hallmark will reduce its Kansas workforce from 1300 workers to 1000.

Hallmark says hourly employees at all three location will be offered financial incentives to voluntarily leave the company. Some hourly workers will be able to transfer from Topeka to Leavenworth or Lawrence.

Workers will meet Wednesday to discuss their options with the company.

Topeka's Hallmark production center opened in 1943. The current 711,000 square foot facility at 240 SE Madison was completed in 1966.

The following is a statement regarding the closure of the Topeka Hallmark plant from Doug Kinsinger, President & CEO of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and GO Topeka:

"Losing any jobs at a time when our state and nation are having economic challenges is a major concern, especially manufacturing jobs with a company the quality of Hallmark. The printing industry has been going through many changes in recent years due to technology changes and less demand for printed materials. It is evident with this announcement and the recent closure announcement from Josten’s that newer equipment and technologies are continuing to drive changes in this industry.

"GO Topeka’s efforts have focused on diversifying our employment base and bringing other industries with new technologies to our community. It is imperative we continue to educate our workforce in newer skills and technologies and support the efforts of organizations such as Washburn Institute of Technology.

"In talking with Hallmark plant manager David Millen earlier this year, our GO Topeka staff was assured the plant was in a good position and at that time, there was no expectation of layoffs or closures. There was no advance notice by the company that they were considering closure or consolidation. As with all of our local companies, we continually remind them of our interest to retain and grow their operations in Topeka and ask them to alert us if there are opportunities to assist them. Sometimes corporate headquarters decide to check into those options and sometimes business conditions require them to make decisions that incentives could not impact.

"While companies are moving out, many are also moving in. Each business goes through a life cycle that includes growth, maturation, and lesser demand or more competition. Sometimes other technology changes affect demand or production methods. Topeka's printing sector has been going through maturation in its life cycle. This is as we recruit companies to our area we look for businesses and products that will diversify our economy and not make us overly reliant on a few business sectors.

"We understand we cannot change our distance to Hallmark's headquarters. We were made aware several years ago that the insurance for this facility was higher than some of their other facilities due to the flood zone map being changed. We have been advocating with our congressional delegation and with the Corps of Engineers to expedite our levy repair project which would alleviate this issue. Unfortunately our nation has gone through numerous natural disasters (Katrina, the Missouri River flooding) which has put a huge demand on Corps funds and has moved our request for funds lower on the priority list. The Corps of Engineers needs to address this as the City of Topeka already has their funds available for their required share of the project.

"GO Topeka has more projects we are working on than any point in our history. We have over ten existing companies and 23 new companies we are actively working with on projects. We understand that any plant closure is alarming but we want to assure the community that the number of opportunities greatly outweighs our challenges."

A pallet of USDA-recalled frozen beef, right, is seen at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Stores and Foods Warehouse in Pico Rivera, Calif. on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 as a worker transports other products in the facility. The pallet is among the 156,500 pounds of USDA manufactured products that contained contaminated beef from Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. that were delivered to the LAUSD for use in school lunch programs. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)