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Wisconsin Company Plans Paper Plant in Mississippi

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA 08 July 2014 --A Wisconsin company will open a $48 million plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to make paper towels, tissue and other projects, hiring 300 people over five years.

Green Bay Converting and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant announced the plans Monday in Hattiesburg.

State and local governments will contribute aid and tax incentives projected to be worth more than $12 million.

Green Bay Converting, founded in 1999, takes paper and converts it into finished products.

"We are excited about the continued growth of our business and believe Hattiesburg to be the perfect location for our next expansion," CEO Greg Santaga said in a statement.

It's the second investment in Hattiesburg for Santaga. He bought Hattiesburg Paper in 2005 from Kimberly-Clark Corp. That company was later wrapped into Specialty Products Group, which was majority-owned by private equity firm CIC Partners of Dallas, with Santaga maintaining a minority stake. Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP announced in June that it would buy Specialty Products Group.

Chad Newell, president of the Area Development Partnership, said Santaga's previous experience in Hattiesburg was part of what led him back when Green Bay Converting decided it needed a location in the South in addition to the 300-employee operation it will maintain in Wisconsin.

"Greg having has experience in Hattiesburg with a previous company. He felt really comfortable with our workforce capabilities and our community," Newell said.

Newell said the average annual wage at the plant is projected to be $38,000.

The company will build a 400,000-square-foot plant in the Forrest County Industrial Park.

The Mississippi Development Authority said local officials are leasing 40 acres to the plant for free — with an option for another 64 acres — land valued at $1.04 million.

The Hattiesburg City Council and the Forrest County Board of Supervisors met Monday morning to give 10-year tax breaks on non-school property taxes. MDA projects those breaks will be worth $9.75 million.

The state is providing $629,000 to clear and prepare the site, with local authorities adding another $100,000. Newell said the city will spend more than $200,000 to extend water and sewer connections to the new plant. The city is also spending $679,000 to improve overall water service, although Newell said that will benefit more users than just Green Bay Converting.

"In essence, we're providing a donated, cleared site with the site prep already done," he said.

The state will also provide $250,000 for one-time expenses related to the project, plus hiring and worker training services and state tax incentives.


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