Hershey to Close Original Factory

Chocolatier says it must cut 500 workers to stay competitive
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2010 11:23 AM CDT
People head to the Hershey store August 7, 2002 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Hershey, Penn., is about to lose its eponymous chocolate factory. It’s not going far—the company is building a new factory just outside of town—but the closure still represents the end of an era, and will result in the loss of close to half the current factory’s jobs, NPR reports. Hershey says it had to make the move, and the layoffs, to stay competitive—the low ceilings and numerous columns in the old factory, built in 1903, make it ill-shaped to accommodate modern equipment.

The company had threatened to leave town entirely, but relented when the union agreed to layoffs for 500 of the factory’s 1,100 workers. “I hate to say it, but I think Milton [Hershey]’s probably turning over in his grave,” said one local businessman. But Hershey’s biographer says Milton was a pragmatic businessman, who understood that things change. Hershey, a town originally built as a kind of worker’s paradise, is now mostly a tourist destination, and the factory long ago stopped being its top employer.

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