Updated mill bill passed in State Assembly

The bill would provide financial support for two shuttered Wisconsin mills

Updated: Nov. 30, 2021.

MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill on November 11 with broad bipartisan support to maintain prospects for the reopening of two paper mills in the state as their ownership status remains uncertain nearly 18 months after they were shuttered due to the impacts of Covid and declining paper demand.

A companion bill with bipartisan sponsorship was introduced in the State Senate on November 19.

The Assembly bill is a revised and shortened version of a bill that passed the Assembly earlier this year. (That earlier bill was vetoed by Governor Tony Evers. It had relied on federal Covid relief funding, which the governor’s office said violated U.S. Treasury regulations for that funding.)

The new measure would provide a $1 million grant through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) for the huge Verso mill in Wisconsin Rapids to continue to be heated in cold weather and thereby avoid damage from cold so it could be reopened. Atlas Holdings, LLC is negotiating the purchase of Verso Corporation after extending an offer of $20 per share for the company's stock. Other potential buyers were looking at the Wisconsin Rapids mill when the Atlas offer for the whole company became public.

The bill also authorizes a loan guarantee of up to $15 million for a buyer of the Park Falls paper mill for purchase of the mill “or to make infrastructure improvements” to it under terms to be approved by WEDC. However, all of the paper and pulp mill equipment in the Park Falls mill was placed up for auction on November 16 by Maynard Industries, which purchased the mill out of receivership.

The measure will require approval in the State Senate and Governor Tony Evers’ signature to become law.

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