Walker: Combined Locks paper mill has new future

Posted at 3 p.m. on July 30, 2018

The Brillion News

COMBINED LOCKS – Governor Scott Walker joined Midwest Paper Group Monday as the company announced it is committed to creating up to 321 total jobs and investing $30 million in the former Appleton Coated mill.

Midwest Paper Group’s parent companies – Industrial Assets and Maynards Industries – purchased the former Appleton Coated facility at a court-approved receivership auction shortly after the mill closed in September 2017. At the time, the two companies were looking for a buyer for the plant, but after going months without finding one, they made the decision to run the mill as an ongoing operation.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is providing Midwest Paper Group with up to $1.8 million in state tax credits to support the company’s efforts to modernize the former Appleton Coated paper mill in Combined Locks.

The company restarted one of its three paper machines for production in December 2017 and begin rehiring former Appleton Coated workers. Now, all three paper machines are in operation around-the-clock, and about 310 workers – the vast majority of whom had worked at Appleton Coated – are back on the job.

“A few years ago, 600 employees at Appleton Coated were at risk of losing their jobs. As a result of the leadership and fortitude of Midwest Paper Group’s leadership, including Doug Osterberg, and Kyle Putzstuck, an exciting conversion is taking place,” said State Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison. “The new facility will employ 350 skilled laborers and move Appleton Coated, now known as Midwest Paper Group, into the future. They will be producing packaging materials including white, glossy one-sided cardboard for packaging purposes for an array of uses including online sales shipping. Midwest Paper Group has highlighted its role in the future of online sales, which I believe has a long future in our country and the world.”

“We have received overwhelming support and encouragement to restart this mill – support and encouragement from the owners, community, customers, suppliers, government officials, contractors, and most importantly, our employees,” said Kyle Putzstuck, president of Midwest Paper Group. “The additional support from the state of Wisconsin being announced today is further affirmation that we are on the right path and represents a significant investment in continuing the 129-year old papermaking tradition in Combined Locks.”

In addition to reopening the mill, Midwest Paper Group is spending millions to convert the facility from one that produces printing and writing grades of paper (white paper) to one that produces packaging grades (generally brown paper). The project entails installation of equipment needed to convert waste paper to medium and linerboard used in corrugated and other packaging.

Midwest Paper Group will produce both grade lines initially, but it plans to increase production of its packaging grades of paper. The company says there is growing demand for packaging papers because of online shopping and shipping, and the mill’s conversion will help meet that demand and keep the paper manufacturing in Combined Locks.

To support the conversion of the mill, WEDC is awarding Midwest Paper Group with up to $1.8 million in state income tax credits over a three-year period. The actual amount of credits the company receives is contingent upon the number of jobs it creates during that time. To receive the full amount of credits, Midwest Paper Group must create 321 jobs by 2020 and maintain them through at least 2022.

~ Source: State of Wisconsin

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