Duluth, Minnesota scrambles to find future for idled Verso mill
July 29, 2020
DULUTH, Minn. (From news reports) -- Government and business leaders are working to save or find a buyer for a Verso Corp. paper mill that shut down in June, laying off hundreds of workers.
Besides employing 220 people, Verso was a key buyer for Minnesota loggers and was one of the biggest customers for local water and electric utilities.
The facility makes graphic paper, such as the type used in magazines and newspaper inserts -- a sector that has been badly hit by the economic downturn brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Verso said it decided to shut down the plant, along with a larger mill in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., (that one closes this week) citing an "unprecedented market decline" from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company said it is still evaluating the future of the Duluth property. A manager said, "Verso is still exploring viable and sustainable alternatives for the Duluth mill, including marketing it for sale, restarting it if market conditions improve, or closing it permanently."
Local officials say there's a future for the facility as a packaging site -- packaging materials are selling well during the pandemic -- and sound like they expect a sale. A similar effort is under way in Wisconsin Rapids.
Verso acquired the mill in 2016 as part of a deal to buy NewPage Holdings Inc.