KALAMAZOO — Graphic Packaging International LLC plans to invest $600 million to install a new paperboard machine in Southwest Michigan.
Atlanta-based Graphic Packaging, which specializes in coated, recycled cardboard, anticipates the project will increase manufacturing output by more than 70 percent.
The project on a vacant brownfield site will allow Graphic Packaging to manufacture approximately 900,000 tons of coated recycled paperboard annually in Michigan, representing 44 percent of North American production of the product.
“The project is to install a brand new state-of-the-art coated recycled board machine,” Sue Appleyard, director of corporate communications at Graphic Packaging, told MiBiz. “The machine itself is going to provide much-improved productivity and quality. It will have some positive environmental characteristics as compared to our current machines and it will allow us to produce much more paperboard much faster and with better quality than we are currently doing.”
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board today voted to approve a State Essential Services Assessment exemption for up to 15 years in support of the project. The board also approved the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for a work plan including local and school tax capture for more than $21 million for the company.
The State Essential Services Assessment is required for manufacturers that don’t pay personal property tax on eligible manufacturing personal property. The board can exempt the assessment for projects that create jobs or private investment.
“Southwest Michigan First is proud that the paper industry’s legacy, which began in Kalamazoo in 1867, will continue with this opportunity to help Graphic Packaging International grow in the region,” Ron Kitchens, CEO and senior partner of Southwest Michigan First, said in a statement.
The company also plans to work with local education partners, including Western Michigan University’s Department of Paper Engineering, on growing its talent pipeline, according to Kitchens.
Appleyard said the state and local incentives were instrumental in the project staying in Kalamazoo, as the company also considered locating the new machine in Ohio.
“We have such positive relationships with the state and local entities (in Michigan), and because we have a very talented workforce in Kalamazoo, we’re thrilled we can stay there and retain talent for this new project,” Appleyard said.
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