Former Flambeau River Papers Mill in Wisconsin Reopens with New Owner

A northern Wisconsin paper mill that shut down last year and struggled to find a buyer is back in operation and calling back workers.

It’s been a bumpy year and a half for the Park Falls paper mill that operated for decades as Flambeau River Papers.

In May 2019, its company went into receivership, which is similar to bankruptcy, and its owner put it up for sale. The next month, the mill abruptly closed, laying off about 180 workers. But in July 2019 it reached a deal that allowed it to call many of those workers back and resume production. That lasted until the fall, when an effort to find a buyer for the mill fell through. The mill was idle all winter, and most of this year.

“The perception was it was done last November,” said Park Falls Mayor Michael Bablick. “It was going to get scrapped. That was what we all assumed. We were preparing for that internally in the city.”

That changed when an entrepreneur from New Jersey, Yong Liu, bought the mill. The new company, Park Falls Industrial Management, will operate the mill under the name Park Falls Pulp and Paper.

Bablick said 51 workers have been called back to the mill, as one of the mill’s three massive paper-making machines is back online. When all three are operating, the number of jobs could triple as well.

Nelson said legal advocacy by the United Steelworkers union helped to ensure that the eventual buyer of the mill would commit to operating it as a mill, rather than selling its equipment and materials for scrap.

The city of Park Falls also made a $1 million loan in May to help the company survive the pandemic effects and stay on track to reopen as a mill. Bablick called the loan a “worthwhile risk” for the city.

Right now, the mill is producing a wet lap, a pulp product that it sells to other mills, which turn it into paper products.

The full story is available on Wisconsin Public Radio’s website:
» Park Falls Paper Mill Reopens With New Owner, Plan To Expand.

SOURCE: Wisconsin Public Radio

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