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Philip Morris plans to shut down Concord plant at the end of July

Philip Morris plans to close its pant in Concord at the end of July this year. That's more than a year ahead of when the company initially announced it would shut down the facility. Two years ago, Philip Morris announced it would close its plant in Concord by the end of 2010 and move all its operations to its remaining cigarette plant in Richmond, Virginia. The company now says all 1,100 of its employees in Concord will be out of work by the end of July. Philip Morris says it moved up its schedule to deal with declining cigarette sales and the anticipated impact of a hike in federal taxes on cigarettes. Concord Mayor Scott Padget says the announcement took him by surprise. "It's going to be rough. It was already adjustment for people who lost their jobs, but now this is even more devastating," says Padget. In 2007, 2,500 people worked at the cigarette manufacturing plant. Since then, about 500 employees re-located to Richmond to work at the company's plant there. Several hundred workers left to find other jobs and, in February, Philip Morris laid off about 140 of its Concord employees. Padget says so far no companies have expressed interest in buying Philip Morris' 2,100 acre site.