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Fischer Paper Products on track to move into new local headquarters in July

ILLINOIS (From news reports) -- Work is progressing on a new headquarters of Fischer Paper Products, an Antioch-based paper packaging company for which the Village Board approved incentives worth $3.5 million last year to keep it in town.

The walls are up and the roof decking is in the midst of being installed, said Josh Fischer, the company's president.

The development agreement, approved by the village in May, allows Fischer Paper Products to get reimbursed for eligible costs associated with the new project. The reimbursements will be paid for using dollars generated by the tax-increment financing district, established in 2009, up to $350,000 a year.

The company is set to start moving into the new facility in late July, Fischer said. The move is expected to take about eight weeks before everything is up and running, which means the company will have to maintain two manufacturing spaces at once.

"It's going to be a challenge, but we need to keep running to maintain continuity for our customers," he said. "It will be a chore, but we'll enjoy it."

The new headquarters at 1201 Gregory Drive will encompass 162,000 square feet with room to nearly double in size, Fischer said. It will replace the company's current manufacturing facility east of downtown Antioch as well as a leased warehouse space in Waukegan.

The move was needed because the current Ida Avenue space, which is set to go on sale "any day now," is landlocked, Fischer said.

The company has already purchased new, larger, state-of-the art equipment to replace its existing technology, as well as new machines that will allow it to expand into a new product line -- carryout handle bags for restaurants.

The bags will come in different shapes and sizes and be lighter weight than the paper bags grocery stores use, Fischer said.

"There's a huge gap between supply and demand with paper carryout bag," he said. "It's great timing for us."

The growth means the company is looking to add employees, Fischer added. Last year, when the company decided to pull the trigger and purchase the new site, it had about 90 full-time employees, a number that's on track to hit 115 by the end of this year.

Fischer said the plan is to hire an additional 10 to 15 people each year for the next several years. About two-thirds of the jobs will be on the manufacturing side, including production, maintenance and warehouse work, and the remaining third will be supervisors and in sales and quality control.

The opportunities with paper bags have Fischer thinking the company might need to grow into the extra space available sooner than originally planned. About a year ago, he said he would have pegged an expansion for eight to 10 years down the line, but is now thinking it could come as soon as three to four years.

"It kind of boggles my mind," he said.


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