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$2 Billion Paper Mill Project in Virginia

Chesterfield, Virginia, USA 08 February 2017 -- (From The Chesterfield Observer) -- Construction on the planned $2 billion paper mill in eastern Chesterfield could begin as early as this summer, according to a county economic development official.

Nearly three years after plans for the project were first announced, the Chinese-owned company building the factory is moving closer to construction, said Garrett Hart, director of the Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority. Formerly Tranlin Co., Vastly Inc.'s paper mill is expected to be fully operational by 2020.

"There will be a bunch of activity with state and federal permits starting this spring, depending on the weather," Hart said last week.

Since building plans were first announced in June 2014, the project has been slow going. The company has had difficulty obtaining state environmental permits and has yet to purchase the lion's share of the 850 acres needed for the facility - land located off Willis Road near the James River - according to county real estate records.

Last year, the company also asked to defer receiving a $2 million payment from the state, part of a $20 million performance grant used to lure the company to Virginia, because it was unable to meet performance goals. The company has already received $5 million in state funds from another grant program that was formerly called the Governor's Opportunity Fund.

An official with Vastly, a subsidiary of Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. in China, couldn't be reached for comment by press time. Company officials have previously said the facility will use modern paper processing that is more environmentally friendly than typical paper plants. Once operational, the mill is projected to employ 2,000 people. Hart says the company is expected to apply for a site plan permit with the county in May or June, with possible approval coming by mid-summer.

If that happens, Hart says, construction on the first phase of the project - a "converting" facility - should begin soon after. The converting facility will use paper rolls from China and convert them into consumer paper products, such as paper towels, to be sold in the United States. Coming later will be the actual paper mill, which will convert farm waste into pulp.

Hart said economic development officials met in December with officials from Vastly, along with Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., a Pasadena, Calif., company that is designing the facility and working to obtain the needed permits.

If the site plan permit is approved, construction for the converting facility can start even though state and federal environmental permits are still under consideration.

Vastly's project is believed to represent the largest single investment by a Chinese-owned manufacturer in the U.S.

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