NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Hundreds of people are expected to lose their jobs due to North Charleston’s WestRock paper mill closing down.

“We always hate to see businesses go under,” North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said.

Summey says it’s especially difficult for businesses like WestRock, which have been around since 1937.

“The location has been part of this community before we were a city,” Summey said.

WestRock employed thousands of people over the years, making paper products for DuraSorb and Kraft Pak.

The company said in a statement the reason for closing is “the combination of high operating costs and the need for significant capital investment.”

Summey said, “It’s changed hands a couple times in the last 7-8 years, so we knew the industry was changing.”

WestRock says they’re giving out severance packages to the 500 people losing their jobs, and employees will have an opportunity to relocate within the company.

Summey says the city is also stepping in to help.

“We just want those folks to know that we will be doing everything we can, working with the chamber, people with the county, looking to see what kind of jobs we can find that’s in the market for them,” Summey said.

Summey says the plant will officially close in three to four months, but they want to make sure everyone has another job before then and it’s going to take all hands on deck.

“It’s an opportunity for the local government, especially for the county and city to come together. We see it as a challenge and we’re going to come up to that challenge to make it work for the people of North Charleston and surrounding communities,” Summey said.

The environmental impact has also been a concern over the years, with pollution being emitted into the air from the paper plant.

Summey says the next company that takes over that location could be a different story.

“Whoever comes in there will be met, I think with more strenuous restrictions than were there when the mill was built over 80 years ago,” Summey said.

There is no word yet on what could take over the location and at this point, he says anything is a possibility.