Park Falls Mill to Reopen as Flambeau River Papers

Jne 23, 2006 - Governor Jim Doyle today announced that, with the help of a $4 million package of loans from the state, a group of investors, led by Butch Johnson of Hayward plan to reopen the former Smart Papers mill in Park Falls under the new name, Flambeau River Papers, LLC.

“This is great news for Park Falls, northern Wisconsin, and particularly the hardworking families who will once again have good, family-supporting jobs in this area,” Governor Doyle said. “I commend Butch Johnson and his partners for their investment in Park Falls.”

Flambeau River Papers, LLC has signed an asset purchase agreement to acquire the mill. Flambeau River Papers plans to reopen the Smart Paper mill and begin producing paper after final approval by the Bankruptcy Court, expected on July 13. The first group of maintenance employees will be brought back to work in July 2006. Flambeau River Papers expects to rehire 300 workers when the mill is fully operational.

The mill is a critical purchaser of wood throughout northern Wisconsin buying 140,000 cords of wood per year. Flambeau River Papers estimates that reopening the mill will support an additional 300 small logging businesses in the region and strengthen prices in Wisconsin’s logging industry. The mill buys lumber harvested under sustainable forestry practices.

“I’m proud to be part of such a broad effort to pull our community together and protect these jobs and businesses,” said Butch Johnson, “I appreciate all the support we’ve received from the workers, the community, and the state.”

Flambeau River Papers is partnering with Stamford, Connecticut-based CellMark, one of the largest paper distributors in the nation to market their product. Flambeau is also in discussion with CleanTech Partners to explore alternative energy and biobased power options for the mill’s operations.

The Governor made the announcement and discussed the state’s $4 million loan package on a conference call with reporters. The Governor was joined by Butch Johnson of Flambeau River Papers, Secretary Mary Burke from the Department of Commerce, Joe McNaney of CellMark Paper, a privately owned pulp and paper distributor, and Mayor Tom Ratzlaff of Park Falls.

“I want to thank Flambeau River Papers and Governor Doyle for making this happen,” said Mayor Tom Ratzlaff. “This is great news for northern Wisconsin.”

Governor Doyle, Butch Johnson, and Mayor Ratzlaff thanked a bipartisan group of legislators for supporting the effort to reopen the Park Falls mill including Senator Bob Jauch, Senator Russ Decker, Senator Dale Schultz, Representative Gary Sherman, Representative Mary Williams, and Representative Don Friske.

Smart Papers closed their pulp and paper mills in February 2006 and filed for bankruptcy protection.

SOURCE: Office of the Governor Jim Doyle (Wisconsin)

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