KALAMAZOO, Mich. (From news reports) -- Graphic Packaging Holding Co. has chosen Kalamazoo as the location of its new $600 million machine.
The Graphic Packaging mill in Battle Creek will close when that machine is complete two and a half years from now, a company official said.
The company has described the new machine as "capacity-neutral," which means that it will not increase production for the company but instead replace production at other mills, including the Battle Creek mill.
"Because we must remain capacity-neutral, we will be phasing out the mill in Battle Creek," said Sue Appleyard, Graphic Packaging director of corporate communications.
The approximately 160 employees at the Battle Creek mill were notified of the decision on Tuesday.
Mayor Mark Behnke said the company has not officially notified the city of its plans, but he is aware of the decision and is disappointed in the outcome.
"It's unfortunate," he said. "My heart goes out to the employees, some who have worked there their entire lives."
The company is expecting the Battle Creek mill to continue to run until early 2022.
"We will need the support of the Battle Creek mill during this time," Appleyard said.
They will be looking to retain as many Battle Creek employees at their new Kalamazoo location once it begins operation, Appleyard said.
Appleyard said they intend to begin phasing out the Middletown, Ohio, mill as well.
State, local and township incentives the company received in Kalamazoo contributed to the decision, according to Appleyard, including a 15-year 100% State Essential Services Assessment exemption valued at up to $7,281,250 and a local and school tax capture valued at $21,064,391 that will be used to alleviate brownfield conditions and prepare the site for redevelopment.
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