LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced this week that the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board approved additional support for U.P. Paper, a nearly 100-year-old paper mill in Manistique. The award from the MSF consists of approximately $1.9 million in collateral support that will enable a $4.25 million working capital line of credit from Crestmark, a division of Meta bank.
Originally created in 1984, the MSF board is tasked with the responsibilities of approving grants and loans under different Michigan programs to promote economic development and job creation.
In August, state Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) invited MEDC CEO Jeff Mason to tour the facility, along with Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), state Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), Alan Barr, executive director of the Schoolcraft County Economic Development Corporation, and others in an effort to highlight the importance of the plant to the community and the state.
“Our roots in timber, forest products and natural resources run deep in the Upper Peninsula. Keeping these industries strong and sustainable is a major priority for my office, and fighting for them is necessary to preserve local jobs and sustain our communities,” said Cambensy. “I commend U.P. Paper and the four investors from the U.P. who took a risk, saw the potential of this mill, and kept the best interests of the employees and community at heart. The employees have also shown initiative and loyalty, and I’d like to thank them for their commitment to help strengthen the company. The recent decision by the MEDC will allow the mill to make needed improvements, grow, and continue to compete in a global market. We are grateful to the MEDC for their ability to see the long-term opportunities U.P. Paper is pursuing and for making this investment in our region and state as a whole.”
Established in 1920, U.P. Paper has long been an integral part of the regional economy. After being forced to shut down in 2015, it is enjoying slow growth after reopening under new leadership in 2016. U.P. Paper manufactures recycled kraft paper sourced from recycled paper products and is one of the larger employers in the county, with an economic impact of about $30 million annually. U.P. Paper is currently at full capacity, employing 97 people, but with the award, the mill plans to add four new full-time employees in the next six months and an additional four within the next two years.
U.P. Paper CEO Lars Dannberg said the company also plans to use the award to improve their process and increase their long-term viability.
“As owners and managers, we are very proud that we have succeeded in revitalizing an older plant that now has hope again,” said Dannberg. “Since taking ownership of the plant in 2016, we have been able to position U.P. Paper as a leading company in a healthy market that is now growing as a result of e-commerce. We feel confident about growing our revenue and reinvesting in the facility to improve our paper quality, attract the highest paying companies and meet a large demand. U.P. Paper is a small fish in a big pond, and we are grateful for the support of the MEDC in helping bring our goals to fruition.”