As previously announced, Michigan State legislatures have approved legislation to grant Billerud investment support of up to USD 200 million in funding to support Billerud’s investment plans. Today, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the legislation, approving the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) appropriation of the funds.
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 USD 200 million assumes investments of approximately USD 1 billion. The final amount of the funding will be relative to the company’s actual investment and is subject to 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,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the MEDC and President and Chair of the MSF Board. “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.”
“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,” said Billerud Americas Corporation President Rob Kreizenbeck. “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.”
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,” said Marty Fittante, CEO of InvestUP. “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.”