Verso in Wisconsin Rapids to close by the end of July
Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Shane Blaser says hundreds of Verso employees have learned the company’s plans to suspend work in Wisconsin Rapids.
According to a news release from the company, Verso will indefinitely idle paper mills in Duluth and Wisconsin Rapids while exploring viable and sustainable alternatives for both mills, including restarting if market conditions improve, marketing for sale or closing permanently.
The release states, the decision to reduce production capacity is driven by the accelerated decline in graphic paper demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The stay-at-home orders have significantly reduced the use of print advertising in various industries, including retail, sports, entertainment and tourism.
“I am disappointed by the news that Verso Corporation plans to suspend operations at their Wisconsin Rapids mill and lay off their hard-working, dedicated employees,” Blaser stated.
State Rep. Scott Krug said the closure is due to COVID-19.
“… today, Verso in Wisconsin Rapids took the latest hit. A full shutdown has never happened in the history of this mill, dating back to 1904. Today, the impossible became reality. Growing up in Wisconsin Rapids my heart hurts today like it never has before,” Krug stated.
State Senator Patrick Testin said he’s reached out to Secretary Caleb Frostman at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to talk about what can be done.
Verso expects to idle the Duluth Mill by the end of June 2020, and the Wisconsin Rapids Mill by the end of July 2020, resulting in the layoff of approximately 1,000 employees.
The Wisconsin Paper Council announced they've begun reaching out to state and local officials to assist in coordinating response efforts. "Our trade association is committed to doing all we can to provide support to the thousands of employees and community members who have been adversely impacted by this difficult situation," a news release said.