The Ferry-Morse Seed Co. notified state officials Monday of the layoff of almost 200 people across the country, including about two dozen at its White City distribution center. - Julia Moore

White City seed center closes, lays off 25

About 25 Southern Oregonians will lose their jobs by the end of the year because of the closure of a White City garden-seed distribution center.

Fulton, Ky.-based Ferry-Morse Seed Co. filed a letter of intent with the state and Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler Monday saying the company plans to close its distribution center at 7997 Agate Road, No. F.

The letter said the company had been purchased by Seed Holdings on Friday, May 18, resulting in the termination of nearly 200 employees nationwide, or 50 percent of the company's total workforce, which spans several plants across the U.S. and Canada.

Those who did not lose their jobs in the buyout have been offered employment by Seed Holdings, the letter states. The employees of the White City distribution center will be terminated no later than Dec. 31, when the White City center will be closed permanently. The letter further states that none of the center's employees are union-represented.

The facility, just across the street from Cascade Auto Recycling, is locked up, and no employees were available on-site to comment. Ferry-Morse officials declined to comment further on the distribution center's closure, saying an official announcement will be made later this week.

Ron Fox, executive director of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., said SOREDI will market the 100,000-square-foot building to prospective buyers looking for a large industrial space. "We'll turn our attention to reselling that location," Fox said.

Ferry-Morse moved onto the property, which once was a warehouse for the Royal Oak Charcoal Co., in June 2009 after several months of collaboration with SOREDI. The facility was the company's first West Coast location. The company had anticipated the location would reduce shipping costs and cut the time needed to serve West Coast customers. The company sells seed and soil mixes, with big-box clients such as Fred Meyer, Lowe's and Home Depot.

"This was a company that we had helped add to our business neighborhood," Fox said. "They're well-recognized in the seed and gardening business. I'm hopeful those people will find jobs readily in other companies in the area."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468.

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