Fast-track votes begin for Green Bay Packaging incentives

Brown County's Executive and Administration Committees held a joint meeting at the Neville Public Museum on June 14, 2018. (Photo credit: WLUK)

BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) -- Two Brown County committees unanimously approved infrastructure improvements Thursday night that would benefit 85-year-old Green Bay Packaging.

It was just two days earlier that the paper-maker introduced its plan to invest more than $500 million in a new state-of-the-art mill.

In the joint committee meeting, Brown County supervisors agreed a $5.3 million investment is worth it to keep Green Bay Packaging and its 1,100 jobs in the area. The full county board is expected to vote on the deal next week.

The company is owned by the George Kress Family.

“I think it’s the Kress commitment they've always had to this community, going back for generations,” said Tom Sieber, a Brown County Supervisor. “They've been really involved in the community and not wanting to leave, I just think it shows the character of the family and the company.”

Brown County's investment is for a Fox River Papermaking Corridor. A main component is the creation of a regional storm water retention pond that businesses around Green Bay Packaging will also be able to benefit from.

“The environmental angle of it is really super,” said James Kneiszel, a Brown County Supervisor.

One concern a couple supervisors expressed was the timing of the project. They say it would have helped to have more notice to have some of their questions answered and to hear from constituents.

“I was disappointed and really would have preferred that they at least allowed a month's time to pass,” said Kneiszel.

“I think we all know the facts and all the information we're going to need in order to make a good decision on this project,” said Sieber.

Bryan Hollenbach, Executive Vice President of Green Bay Packaging, says negotiations between the company and the county started in March.

In addition to Brown County's contribution, the city of Green Bay plans to kick in $23 million in TIF assistance. The state plans to provide $60 million in tax credits.

Green Bay Packaging says it is vital for all three groups to pass the incentive deals before June 30th.

“We have to look at it from a business point of view,” said Hollenbach. “We have to move very fast. If we don't get this paper machine on order, this project is going to be delayed significantly.”

Company leaders say the paper machine order is nearly half of the $500 million investment it is making, and the order won't happen until the incentive deals are secured.

The mill is being built next to Green Bay Packaging's current mill, off of Quincy Street. It's a 71-year-old building.

The goal is to break ground in September and start operations in the new facility in 2021.

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