State Reps. Greg Markkanen and Dave Prestin today announced they were able to secure new funding for a $1 billion investment in Billerud, an advanced paper manufacturer in the Upper Peninsula.
“This is a monumental victory for the Upper Peninsula,” said Rep. Markkanen, R-Hancock. “Due to this investment, at least 1,240 jobs will be retained at the Escanaba facility. Further, much-needed machine and facility upgrades are now on the horizon. This will lead to a flurry of job opportunities, and a more vigorous U.P. The mill was recently facing closure, however this investment will keep the mill running, and set it up for generations to come. This investment is so vital it will greatly benefit the entire state, not just the Upper Peninsula. We were able to change the course of an ever-important business in a declining market, ensuring it will now enter a growing market in the North American segment. It’s expected that some of the most advanced technology and sustainability will be introduced to the U.P., and frankly to the U.S. with this investment. This is the state fulfilling its obligation to the paper, cardboard and timber industries, and to the hard-working folks in the U.P.”
Prestin, R-Cedar River, said: “At a time when inflation is high and the costs of essentials for Michiganders and Yoopers alike has become such a burden, I’m extremely proud to announce this transformational, generational investment that will reaffirm our timber industry. Located in my district, Billerud employs thousands of hard-working Yoopers. Not only will over 1,200 jobs be retained, but the Michigan Economic Development Corporation estimates the investment will lead to nearly 2,000 employment opportunities for construction workers given the need for new buildings, renovations, infrastructure improvements and electrical upgrades. These jobs will pay an average of over $43 an hour, which is much higher than the target livable wages in surrounding communities. Local units of government already work well with the company. The Upper Peninsula will continue to be on the cutting edge of innovation, sustainability, and viability.”
The Escanaba-based mill has been making paper since 1911. It’s one of the top employers in Delta County, and has an estimated $360 million annual economic impact on the area. Included in today’s spending bill, Senate Bill 7, $200 million will be used to fund and facilitate the major investment.
“Democrats clamoring about process means nothing when they won’t engage with us legislatively,” said Markkanen, who serves on the House Education Committee. “I know there are former educators across the aisle. I’m sure they dealt with the same classroom distractions that I did. It appears they forgot about the remedies for those problems. If they truly recognize the need for school safety resources, I’d give them some of the same advice I gave some of my more distracted students – it’s time to turn off the phone, sit down at your desk, and get to work. We need a committee hearing so we can get these bills done.”
“There are so many Yoopers with Finnish heritage, making celebrating Finnish history all the more important in the Upper Peninsula,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “Saunas are essential to Finnish culture. Finns of all generations enjoy traditional saunas for cleansing and as a vital source of relaxation and socializing.”
“Pvt. Karna served his country bravely in its time of greatest need,” Markkanen said. “As a fellow veteran, I’m honored to introduce a bill to memorialize his service and sacrifice in the Painsedale and South Range communities.”
“The governor’s new Good Jobs 2.0 proposal has a lot in common with Hollywood’s recent obsession with remaking classic movies; the only difference being, unlike many of the movies, the original Good Jobs program was terrible too,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “Michigan doesn’t need to lure coastal corporations into our state so we can have more big fancy ribbon cutting events. We need a real economic development strategy to support our struggling small businesses across Michigan.”