‘Coalition Conversation’ in Wisconsin Rapids looks to improve state’s economic growth

The Wisconsin Paper Council is a top 60 finalist to potentially receive a grant as part of the American Rescue Plan.
The Wisconsin Paper Council is a top 60 finalist to potentially receive a grant as part of the...
The Wisconsin Paper Council is a top 60 finalist to potentially receive a grant as part of the American Rescue Plan.(WSAW)
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Paper Council is a top 60 finalist to potentially receive a grant as part of the American Rescue Plan. A discussion with the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the paper council took place Monday at Mid-State’s Wisconsin Rapids campus.

The focus of the Coalition Conversation the importance of economic growth in central Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Paper Council is working to bring more jobs to the state by improving the paper and forestry industry.

Wisconsin is the number one paper-making state in the nation. Despite the industry’s success, the paper council and the U.S. Department of Commerce want to see even more growth.

“This is about everyone bringing their best assets, their best ideas, bringing together a proposal that’s going to generate the strength of the industry but also generate jobs,” U.S. Economic Development Administration Assistant Secretary Alejandra Castillo said.

Castillo visited Wisconsin Monday as one of 12 other stops nationwide. The U.S. Economic Development Administration is holding what’s called the ‘Build Back Better Regional Challenge.’ There will be 20 to 30 applicants in the nation that will get up to $100 million, if they’re chosen.

“It’s just amazing to watch our strength in so many different industries and you can pick any community across the country,” Castillo said.

The closure of the Verso Paper Mill in Wisconsin Rapids has opened discussions of improving the paper and forestry business. The grant money would help revitalize an industry that is changing by the day. The council hopes to incorporate more technology and create more jobs.

“It gives us a chance to redefine. To leave the status quo behind and to move forward, really, truly providing value to our rural communities and to each and every person,” Wisconsin Paper Council member Stacey Johnson said.

Stacey Johnson said Wisconsin has some of the healthiest forests in the nation. It’s a goal of theirs to utilize that and keep jobs here.

“The future is bright, it’s exciting and we’re here to help pave that path for you,” Johnson said.

If Wisconsin receives the grant, it could help nearly eight different projects in the paper industry. Winners will be announced in the summer.

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