Paper mill aid is true economic development

Urge Gov. McCrory to keep jobs in Haywood
Jan 16, 2014

The quest for good-paying manufacturing jobs is a top goal for many communities in the United States. The lesson learned over the past decade or two is that it is far easier to retain a manufacturing business than it is to recruit a new one.

That is certainly the case for Evergreen Packaging in Canton and Waynesville, which employs 1,200, has a $90 million annual payroll and a $250 million economic impact in the community.

As the nation ramps up its environmental regulations to clean up the air, the company told county and state leaders it will cost an estimated $64.8 million to convert two of its coal-fired boilers to natural gas. The company is willing to put up $50 million, but is asking the state to come up with the remainder.

It is a request local leaders and legislators are working hard to accomplish, but so far a funding source hasn’t been identified. Just this week, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory announced the state will contribute a minimum of $10 million toward a university and industry consortium at N.C. State to help develop the next generation of electronic chips and devices.

That is a positive statement and demonstrates the Governor is serious about working collaboratively with private industry and the federal government to create jobs in the state — something that was the hallmark of his campaign two years ago.

While the $12.8 million requested state contribution won’t necessarily create new jobs, it could possibly make the difference in preserving 1,200 jobs that wouldn’t need to be replaced.

As Sen. Jim Davis noted, another paper mill in the country simply closed down rather than upgrade its facilities to meet the latest air quality standards.

In this case, Evergreen has expressed an interest in continuing to do business in North Carolina and Haywood County. Their contribution of $50 million is sizeable, and is one that would indicate not only a willingness to comply with the regulations, but stay in the county for many years to come.

Let’s hope state legislators and the governor find funding to make sure a 100-year plus anchor in Western North Carolina’s economy can remain in place.

Take a few moments to contact Gov. McCrory at 20301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-0301 or email him directly through his website at www.governor.state.nc.us/contact/email-pat and let him know how important Evergreen Packaging is to our local economy.

 

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