A large bread company announced Wednesday they will be closing their plant near Grand Falls, putting 72 people in that community out of work.
Canada Bread Company Limited, a subsidiary of Maple Leaf Foods, said in a news release the closure planned for June 28 would improve efficiencies by reducing overhead costs and consolidating production.
Grand Falls Mayor Richard Keeley said the announcement came as a surprise.
"I had no knowledge or any inkling that this facility was under review of any kind so this is a complete shock to us," he said.
"The impact is all over the region ... It's going to hurt us. Seventy-two jobs exactly — it's like 1,000 jobs in a big city — so this is major."
Larry WIlliams, who has worked at the bakery for 12 years, said the news took him by surprise.
"It's a blow," he said.
Saint André Mayor Alain Desjardins said the closure will hit the community of 5,700 people hard.
"They have [entire] families working here — moms, dads and children," he said.
On Friday morning the mayors of the four affected communities — Saint André, Grand Falls, Drummond and Saint Léonard — plan to hold an emergency meeting with the MLA for the region and Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Danny Soucy to come up with some kind of plan for those losing their jobs.
The facility, located in Saint André, first opened during the 1960's as a family-owned business and changed hands many times before Canada Bakery took over.
The bakery produces a variety of cakes and sweets as well as English muffins.
The company stated in the release that production of English muffins will be transferred to another facility and the production of cakes and sweet goods would be discontinued.
The closure also affects a facility in Edmonton. That facility employs about 46 people and is set to close March 30.
Canada Bread employs about 5,200 people in Canada and a total of 8,700 people throughout North America and the United Kingdom.