Green Bay Packaging announces plans for new $500 million mill

An aerial view of Green Bay Packaging's facilities June 12, 2018. (WLUK image)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- Green Bay Packaging is spending more than $500 million to build what it says will be the first new paper mill in Wisconsin in 30 years.

"It's a huge monetary commitment for us. It's big, big, big, biggest thing we've ever done, but it will set us up for many years to come, " said CEO Will Kress. "You know, we were all born and raised here in Green Bay -- my grandpa, my great-grandpa -- and we have great workers here. I just seems like the natural thing to do to be here in Green Bay," he said.

Company leaders say their current 71-year-old facility is outdated and inefficient. The new mill, to be built on the same site as the current mill, is expected to preserve more than 1,100 jobs, with the company hoping to add 200 more over the next few years.

"This is a lifetime decision. The last mill survived 71 years and had three major upgrades and we believe this mill will survive 50-plus years -- that's our goal, said Bryan Hollenbach, the executive vice president of the company.

The new mill will have several environmentally friendly features, the company says. Plans call for the mill to use all recycled paper in its products. Green Bay Packaging has also developed plans to use treated wastewater in its production process and not release any wastewater into the Fox River. The company also says it will replace its coal-fired boiler with two natural gas boilers to eliminate the use of coal.

"We're going to be able to run this machine three times what we run our current machine, so we will be able to improve our production by three times, which was important. But we will still be able to maintain our current employees but become more efficient because the machine will be faster," explained Hollenbach.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is working on offering $60 million in state tax credits to Green Bay Packaging.

Construction is expected to begin in September, with the new mill opening in 2021. The company does not expect to have any down time during construction; once the new facility is ready, production will shift there.

No decision has been made regarding what to do with the current building.

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