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Phoenix Paper Opens Paper Recycling Plant in Wickliffe, Kentucky

Phoenix Paper plans to invest $200 million to build a paper recycling facility at its mil in Wickliffe, Kentucky.

Company leaders plan to use the existing site to build a paper-and-pulp recycling facility. With an estimated 700,000-ton annual capacity, the new facility will receive post-consumer cardboard and mixed paper from various regional locations. Following cleaning and screening of the raw material, the stock will be formed and dried into industrial pulp and finished paper.

Current design and equipment specifications are being finalized with construction to begin before the end of the year. The project is expected to be completed within 14 to 18 months.

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority in a special meeting in August 2018 preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $25 million in tax incentives based on the company’s original investment of $150 million into the mill and annual targets of: Creation and maintenance of 500 Kentucky-resident full-time jobs across 15 years and paying an average hourly wage of $33 including benefits across those jobs.

This past May in Lexington, Kentucky hosted the U.S.-China Governors Collaboration Summit, a gathering of US and Chinese leaders, financiers and private companies to promote further collaboration and economic development between China’s provinces and US states. Executives from the Bank of China attended, providing opportunities to strengthen relationships with Kentucky leaders. Phoenix Paper is a longtime client of the Bank of China. “Bank of China has held preliminary meetings aimed at providing additional funding for Phoenix Paper’s recycling project, which would support hundreds of jobs in Kentucky, as part of the Governor’s direct efforts to attract Chinese investment during the recent summit,” said Raymond Qiao, chief lending officer for the Bank of China USA.

“This new recycling facility will bring a tremendous amount of additional economic activity to the West Kentucky region for decades to come. The project will further support Phoenix Paper’s commitment to create 500 good-paying jobs in Ballard County,” Governor Matt Bevin said. “The company’s ongoing investment in the Wickliffe region is truly proving transformative, and it further demonstrates how Kentucky leads the way as a destination for international investment in engineering and manufacturing.”

A year ago, executives with Phoenix Paper, along with Governor Bevin and local leaders announced the company would purchase the mill for about $16 million, refurbish it with a $150 million investment and reopen it, eventually creating 500 full-time positions. The mill opened early this year and produced its first roll of bleached, hardwood pulp on May 29. The facility currently employs more than 200 people and has an annual capacity of 300,000 tons. The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection is working with Phoenix Paper to ensure all necessary environmental permits are in place prior to opening.

Hannah Chretien, Executive Director of the Ballard County Economic Development and Industrial Board, said; “We’re working in lock step with the company’s local management and executives in China, as well as city, county, regional and state partners to ensure Phoenix Paper’s overall success,” Chretien said.

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