NEENAH (NBC 26) — Clearwater Paper announced Tuesday the "indefinite closure" of its facility in Neenah.
In a news release, the company said its closure includes three tissue machines and 10 converting lines, removing a total paper production capacity of about 54,000 tons.
Clearwater Paper said it intends to indefinitely close Neenah and "exit the away from home business" by the end of July 2021.
“Despite the best efforts of our dedicated employees, our Neenah location and assets cannot cost effectively compete in the markets that we serve,” said Arsen Kitch, president and chief executive officer. “This was a difficult decision, because it affects our people, their families and the Neenah community.”
About 290 employees will be impacted by the closure, the company said. The company also said it's working with the union and state agencies to provide career assistance to employees.
The mayor of Neenah, Dean Kaufert said he received a direct call from Clearwater Paper about the closure.
He said he immediately called senator Roger Roth asking if Roth could speak with the governor’s office and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for help. He says from his previous experience in the legislature he’s hoping there’s a way the state can help the company stay open.
“You can’t do it to every company but the paper making industry is such an important big part of the Fox Valley that maybe the state can intervene here, maybe they can find a way to generate tax dollars and in return maybe they could use some of those tax dollars as an incentive to stay. I think it’s worth a shot," Kaufert said.
He says this facility is a place that touched generations of families.
“Grandpa worked there, then dad worked there and then the kid worked there,” Kaufert said.
For the mayor, he shares he actually has a family member affected by the closure.
“Everyone has family, someone has friends that work there that are going to be impacted. In my case I actually have a close immediate family member that works there. But I don’t think they saw it coming and I didn’t see this coming," Kaufert said.
On the evening of the announcement this sign below was still visible.
Clearwater Paper acquired the Neenah mill in 2010 and produced private brand tissue products for commercial and retail customers at the mill. It had previously announced layoffs at the mill in 2016.
Clearwater Paper is a supplier of private brand tissue to major retailers, including grocery and drug stores. The company is based in Spokane, Washington.