Blue Ridge Paper Products, a global leader in creating fiber-based packaging solutions and subsidiary of Evergreen Packaging, was recently awarded a state Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund Grant to convert two of its coal-fired boilers to natural gas at its plant in Haywood County, North Carolina.
The North Carolina Economic Investment Committee approved the grant. The company will receive up to $12 million over ten years to make the conversion, with Evergreen Packaging investing $51 million in the project.
According to state officials, funding for the JMAC grant was included in a bill with bi-partisan support signed by Governor Pat McCrory. As a result, not only will 939 jobs be retained, but the plant will also be more energy efficient and operate cleaner. The remaining funds will be used to retrofit three additional boilers.
The JMAC Fund is a discretionary incentive program that provides sustained annual grants to businesses that meet the requirements of a major employer or a large manufacturing employer. Funds are intended to encourage retention of significant numbers of high-paying, high quality jobs and large-scale capital investment that will modernize processes and provide more globally competitive projects.
“When I signed this bill in September at the Western Residence, I noted that it was intended to ensure job retention and help manufacturing companies move toward cleaner energy operations,” said Governor McCrory. “This JMAC grant is doing exactly that at Canton Mills. When the work is completed, Blue Ridge Paper Products will be operating more efficiently, and will have kept a significant number of high-paying, high-quality jobs.”
Blue Ridge Paper Products is the largest private employer in Haywood County. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency informed the company it has until 2019 to comply with federal boiler maximum achievable control technology or be required to shut down.
Blue Ridge Paper Products qualifies as a large manufacturing employer. Under the statute, a business must invest at least $50 million in capital improvements designed to convert its manufacturing process to change the product it manufactures or designed to enhance pollution controls or transition the manufacturing process from using coal to using natural gas for the purpose of becoming more energy efficient and reducing emissions. In addition, the business must either be in a Tier 1 county with at least 320 full-time employees, or be in a Tier 2 county with a population of less than 60,000 as of July 1, 2013 and employ at least 800 full-time employees.