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Billerud secures investment support for Escanaba Mill transformation plans

Billerud secures investment support for Escanaba Mill transformation plans
Billerud provides paper and packaging materials made from virgin fibres. The company has nine production units in Finland, Sweden, and the US including the Escanaba Mill in Michigan. The paper mill currently has three paper machines with annual capacity of about 700 000 tonnes per annum (photo courtesy Billerud).

Sweden-headed forest industry major Billerud AB has announced that Michigan State legislatures have approved legislation to grant Billerud investment support of up to US$200 million in funding to support Billerud’s investment plans in the United States (US). Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the legislation, approving the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) appropriation of the funds.

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The transformation of the Escanaba Mill is planned to be the cornerstone of Billerud’s expansion into North America, one of the largest and growing markets in primary fiber premium cartonboard.

The project is expected to support hundreds of high-paying jobs and require a significant number of contractors during the construction period.

This funding follows additional incentives recently approved by the State of Michigan Administrative Board, including approval of the Forest Products Processing Renaissance Zone.

The zone exempts Billerud from paying almost all state and local property taxes at the Escanaba Mill.

The maximum support of US$200 million assumes investments of approximately US$1 billion.

We thank Governor Whitmer, the legislature, and the MEDC for their investment support for Billerud’s planned transformation of our Escanaba Mill into a world-class paperboard production facility. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners in government to facilitate our investments for the benefit of the Escanaba community, Upper Peninsula, and the State of Michigan, said Rob Kreizenbeck, President of Billerud Americas Corporation.

The final amount of the funding will be relative to the company’s actual investment and is subject to the execution of the necessary agreements between the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and Billerud U.S. Production Holdings LLC.

Billerud’s transformational investment in their Escanaba Mill underscores the strength of our advanced manufacturing workforce and secures a critical win as we continue working to promote long-term, sustainable investments across the state. Through the steadfast support of our bipartisan legislative partners, the Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration, the men and women of organized labor, and our many local and regional partners across the Upper Peninsula, we are continuing to demonstrate that Michigan, on both peninsulas, is a place for pure opportunity, said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the MEDC and President and Chair of the MSF Board.

A pre-feasibility study about Billerud’s planned conversion of the Escanaba Mill to paperboard production is ongoing and planned to be completed in the first half of 2023, after which the company’s Board of Directors can make an investment decision.

This is truly a historic opportunity for the Upper Peninsula. We would like to express our appreciation to Billerud for its consideration in making this generational investment in Escanaba. The mill when transformed will not only benefit the region’s economy and the environment with its best-in-class sustainability standards but provide notice that the U.P. can and will compete in attracting advanced technology opportunities, said Marty Fittante, CEO of InvestUP.

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