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$200 Million Investment Announced To Expand Ballard County Paper Mill

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Liam Niemeyer
/
WKMS

A Chinese bank is investing $200 million to expand a paper mill in Ballard County, potentially bringing more than 100 jobs to the region.

Representatives with Global Win Wickliffe LLC, the chinese company that owns the paper mill, said the company is using the investment from the Bank of China to build a 100,000 square-foot recycling facility next to the mill. The company plans to hire roughly 100 people over the next 18 months to operate, maintain and manage the new facility. Combined with the current employees at the paper mill, more than 300 people total could be employed at the site. 

Local and state leaders touted the investment at a press conference Friday in Wickliffe. 

“This is a high compliment to the caliber of the people in west Kentucky,” Governor Matt Bevin said in a phone call at the announcement. ‘While nothing is ever perfect, no location is ever perfect, no situation is ever perfect, this company is impressed by what they have seen.”

The recycling facility will take mixed paper to turn into pulp, that will then be made into reusable paper products, including boxes, in China. The facility could recycle up to 2000 tons of pulp per day.

“The mill today has the capacity to produce 9000 tons per day of product. By the time we finish this phase, we’ll be shipping three times that amount,” Global Win Director of Strategy Tom Lawson said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see us use truck, rail and barge from an incoming standpoint and an outgoing standpoint, just because we’re moving so much material.” 

The paper mill was previously owned by Verso before shutting down in 2016, causing more than 300 people to lose their jobs. Global Win bought the shuttered site in 2018 and the mill restarted operations in May

Ballard County Judge-Executive Todd Cooper said mill’s revival, and now its expansion, is another effort to keep young people in the region, including potentially his grandchildren.

“I’ve got three grand-babies. And when they graduate from high school or college, and they want to stay in west Kentucky or stay in Illinois or Tennessee and work here, that’s all I want,” Cooper said. “So I’m busting my butt everyday so I can bring more jobs here and keep my grand-babies here.”

 
 

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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