Kimberly-Clark to receive up to $28M in state money to keep Cold Spring plant open

A view of Kimberly-Clark's Cold Spring Facility in Fox Crossing, Dec. 7, 2018. (WLUK/Gabrielle Mays)

FOX CROSSING, Wis. (WLUK) -- The state is offering Kimberly-Clark up to $28 million to keep its Cold Spring Facility in Fox Crossing open.

Gov. Scott Walker; State Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton; and Kimberly-Clark executives announced the deal Thursday at the Cold Spring Facility.

"I will tell you, if it were not for Gov. Walker, we wouldn’t be here today," Roth said.

Walker says under the new deal, taxpayers will pay up to $28 million over five years -- under some conditions.

"It’s keeping the footprint that exists -- that's roughly 2,400 jobs in the state (including suppliers)," Walker said. "They have to keep for the next five years of the package on the table."

The facility also has to make at least $200 million in capital investment over that time.

Under terms of the deal, Kimberly-Clark will only receive the full tax incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation if it maintains 388 "technical manufacturing" jobs and $30 million in payroll.

Earlier this year, Republicans proposed a $110 million tax break but, there weren't enough supporters. The bill also failed to pass during the lame-duck session last week.

State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, was among the lawmakers who didn't support the initial proposal. That changed after the latest deal.

"Like I said, not a perfect deal, we're still giving away taxpayer dollars, but at a lot less money and most importantly we’re saving good union jobs at this plant in the Valley," Hansen said.

See what else elected officials are saying about the deal.

"We look forward to embrace the business challenges that lie ahead now that we are staying open," local union president Dave Breckheimer said. "But we are also mindful of those out-of-state that are being adversely affected by this news."

While Kimberly-Clark agreed to keep the Cold Spring Facility open, it will now close a plant in Conway, Arkansas, putting 350 people out of work there.

K-C announced in January that two manufacturing facilities in the Fox Valley -- the Neenah Nonwovens Facility and the Cold Spring Facility in Fox Crossing -- would close. The announcement was part of K-C's global restructuring program, which included cutting between 5,000 and 5,500 jobs around the world. The Neenah Nonwovens Facility is still slated for closure.

Since the announcement, state leaders had tried to entice Kimberly-Clark to keep the Cold Spring Facility open by offering the company tax breaks. The state Assembly approved the incentive package in February, but the Senate never took it up. Last week's lame-duck session was originally intended, in part, for the Senate to consider the bill, but it never came up for a vote.

See what elected officials are saying about the agreement.

About 500 people work at the Cold Spring Facility.

Kimberly-Clark, the maker of personal products such as Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers, was founded in Neenah in the 1870s but moved its corporate headquarters to Irving, Texas in 1985. According to the Fox Cities Regional Partnership, Kimberly-Clark is the third-largest employer in the Fox Valley.

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