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$100 Million Upgrade Under Way at Springfield, Oregon Paper Mill

Springfield, Oregon, USA 27 February 2016 -- (From The Register-Guard) -- International Paper is moving ahead with an upgrade to its linerboard mill valued at more than $100 million.

The upgrade started in ­January and should be done by the end of the year, Michelle ­Winetrout, company spokeswoman, confirmed Friday. The project represents improvements rather than an expansion.

"The project at our Springfield mill is to upgrade equipment that will help us to operate more efficiently and be more competitive," she wrote in an earlier email.

The mill is on north Springfield's 42nd Street, near the ­Eugene-Springfield Highway.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based company is replacing two pieces of heavy equipment that had become obsolete, according to previous Register-Guard articles. The replacement project will cost $101.6 million.

Linerboard is the paper used by container makers to create cardboard boxes, Winetrout said. It is the smooth paper on the inside and outside of corrugated boxes.

The mill produces rolls of the ­paper product in varying thicknesses, which are then sent to box production plants.

The mill employs 265 people, according to the company. Weyerhaeuser built the campus in 1948 and sold it to International Paper in 2008.

Both the Springfield City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners last year approved a five-year property tax break, worth more than $8 million, to encourage the investment in the mill.

The company agreed to maintain its workforce to earn the tax breaks, Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg said.

City and county leaders are glad to see the company invest in its Springfield mill.

The company had the option of moving elsewhere or upgrading ­another mill, Lundberg said. Instead, it chose to commit to the site, she said, which is a key manufacturing cog in the community.

"It was a big investment," Lund­berg said.

The paper mill is a landmark in Springfield, said Sid Leiken, a Lane County commissioner and former Springfield mayor, and the upgrade means it will remain so.

"With the kind of investment they are putting in there, that tells me they are here for the long term," Leiken said.

International Paper is a global company with paper and packing manufacturing operations in ­Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa, as well as North America, according to the company. Worldwide, it employs about 58,000 people.

Lundberg and Leiken said they are particularly pleased by International Paper's investment because of the quality of jobs it provides. ­Average employee compensation, ­including most benefits, is in excess of $95,000, according to Register-Guard articles.

The mill has been "a long-­standing pillar of the community," said Sarah Case, community and economic development manager for Lane County. She said the investment is good news.

"It means they are retaining jobs, and they are high-quality jobs."


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