IP to re-open VA paper mill

Posted May 17, 2011, at 3:21 p.m.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — International Paper Co. is planning to repurpose part of its closed mill in Virginia’s Isle of Wight County in a move that will create more than 210 jobs.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday that the company will invest $83 million in the project to turn part of the facility into a fluff pulp mill. It will be capable of producing up to 270,000 metric tons of fluff pulp annually. The product is an absorbent pulp used in diapers, feminine care and adult hygiene products.

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng said the mills current assets, transportation options and proximity to the Port of Virginia for product export all contributed to the company’s decision to repurpose the property.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based global paper and packaging company shuttered its Franklin, Va. plant last April after more than a century of lumber and paper manufacturing. International Paper attributed the mill’s closure to the global recession that has slashed demand for paper and paperboard products. About 1,100 people were employed at the mill when the phased closing was first announced in October 2009.

McDonnell approved a $350,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund for the project. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance also will provide funding and services for recruitment and training.

International Paper currently has about 59,000 employees in more than 24 countries.

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