Wisconsin Rapids holds meeting to discuss future of its paper mill

Sonoco employs 90 people at the facility, and their lease runs out in 2027
Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 10:09 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - The City of Wisconsin Rapids discussed its recovery and reuse plan for the newly bought Billerud Paper Mill for about an hour Thursday night.

Bringing jobs back to the area was a top priority for those who spoke.

“It’s a privately held paper mill we don’t own the property but if opportunities do arise we have a plan and a guide that we can utilize moving forward,” said Kyle Kearns, director of Community Development for the City of Wisconsin Rapids.

Billerud currently owns the facility, as well as the Verso assets in the U.P., but they only count the Wisconsin Rapids location as a minor asset and are not putting it to use.

“We will continue communications with Billerud who owns and operates the mill, Sonoco also exists within the mill they operate a small paper machine they are leasing that space,” said Kearns.

Sonoco employs 90 people at the facility. They’ve had talks with Billerud about a full purchase, but the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement.

Sonoco’s lease runs until 2027 and if it can’t complete a purchase, they’ll have to make a decision on whether to continue their own operations.

“We can’t predict the future, but hopefully if something presents itself, we can at least guide and aide development,” Kearns added.

That hope is the reason why this plan has three ideas in place. Before Billerud’s announcement, following and a selection of one or more buyers.

“At the end of the day we are hopeful that the mill won’t be scrapped,” said Kearns.

For more information on the plan for the paper mill, click here.