JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Kemper County drugmaker has laid off most of its remaining employees, making it likely that it will shut down while owing the state economic development money.
Pharma Pac laid off 84 employees from its DeKalb facility on March 7, according to a notice filed with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.
The company is required, under an agreement giving it $500,000 from the state, to employ 179 people through Sept. 30, but it may not have any employees by then.
Kemper County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Craig Hitt said about 20 former employees were hired back on a temporary basis to close out the business.
Pharma Pac has made and packaged drugs with a focus on creams and ointments. General Manager Roy Davis did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
"They seemed to have some good contracts," Hitt said. "But they just weren't able to provide the supply on the contracts that they had, and it began to catch up with them."
The move came after an earlier 75-employee layoff in December. It's not exactly clear who is in control of the company's assets at this point. The company has not made a bankruptcy filing in Mississippi.
In January, Mississippi Development Authority spokesman Jeff Rent said a new entity had taken management control and installed new managers, parting ways with Pharma Pac's founding management team.
The state directed $500,000 in bond proceeds in 2005 to allow Kemper County to buy and expand a factory, with the company promising to hire 90 new employees. Pharma Pac also received $60,000 in services from the county and a $740,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development arm.
Rent could not immediately say how much Pharma Pac would owe. The company's agreement with the state says it must to pay back an equal share of the bond issue for each job that it falls short of the employment target. However, the company misstated its employment at the time of the initial agreement and thus didn't meet job targets in 2010 and 2011, repaying at least $167,000 to the state. In 2012, the state signed an amended agreement setting the new target of 179 and the company met its obligation in 2012, state Auditor Stacey Pickering's office found.
Hitt said his authority is trying to find new tenants for two buildings. One is owned by Kemper County and the other is owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Hitt said Kemper County is still repaying debt on the building it owns.