ARDMORE — 3M on Thursday stunned the Ardmore community when it announced to its 125 employees there that operations at the local plant will be phased out by the end of the year. Wes Stucky, president of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce., said the closing is a blow to the south Oklahoma community. "We are used to making hiring announcements,” he said. The plant makes dental implant products. Operations will move to St. Paul, Minn., and Irvine, Calif., over the next several months. "We have invested, and continue to invest, in this business and remain confident and optimistic that the implant business can succeed if we consolidate operations into other 3M locations,” said Larry Lair, vice president and general manager of 3M ESPE. "Consolidation will make it easier to integrate with 3M systems and to gain efficiencies by taking advantage of other resources within 3M.” The Ardmore facility, formerly IMTEC Corp. — which was founded in 1990 by Drs. Ron Bulard and E.S. Gillespie — was acquired by 3M in July 2008. Some positions will be relocated, the company said. Employees who do not have the option to relocate, or choose not to relocate, will be eligible for severance benefits. Stucky said 3M's move is another sign that the economy is still struggling. The 20,000-square-foot building used by 3M is owned by the city's development authority and will be marketed to other businesses that could bring jobs to Ardmore. 3M claims to be one of the world's largest suppliers to the dental industry with a wide range of products used by dental professionals.