SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed legislation into law to secure millions in funding for a major Escanaba paper mill.
The spending legislation, which was signed into law on Tuesday, Jan. 31, secured a total of $1.1 billion in funding for various project across the state. One of the largest investments will be modernizing the Escanaba mill.
The mill, which sits on the banks of the Escanaba River, is owned by Swedish paper producer Billerud. The mill has been a major part of the Escanaba economy since 1911 and supports many local jobs.
The mill is one of the top employers in Delta County, with several thousand workers. It has an estimated $360 million in annual economic impact on the area.
“Billerud’s transformational investment in their Escanaba Mill underscores the strength of our advanced manufacturing workforce and secures a critical win as we continue working to promote long-term, sustainable investments across the state,” said Quentin Messer, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in a statement. “Through the steadfast support of our bipartisan legislative partners, the Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration, the men and women of organized labor, and our many local and regional partners across the Upper Peninsula, we are continuing to demonstrate that Michigan, on both peninsulas, is a place for pure opportunity.”
In the past several months, Billerud has been in the process of planning an expansion and modernization project at the mill, which is expected to bring in around $1 billion from Swedish investors. The company needs to make this modernization in order to keep the mill running the way it is. This project is expected to allow the company to keep more than 1,240 jobs.
“This is a major investment that will strengthen the local economy and keep the mill operational for generations to come,” said Sen. John Damoose, (R-Harbor Springs). “I am proud to stand up for Upper Peninsula families and help secure funding to keep these jobs long into the future.”
This funding follows additional incentives recently approved by the State of Michigan Administrative Board, including approval of the Forest Products Processing Renaissance Zone. The zone exempts Billerud from paying almost all state and local property taxes at the Escanaba Mill.
The project will include upgrading the mill to handle more paper products than it could in the past. With the new investment, Bullerud will convert the mill into producing primary fiber carton board and paperboard products. This new moderinzed mill will be the cornerstone of Billerud expanding its company into North America.
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