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 just spent two weeks passing legislation that will wreak havoc across Michigan. Now, they’re tucking their tails, ignoring their duty to the voters, and running out of town. We are a full-time legislature. It’s been forty years since we’ve adjourned as early as Democrats did this week.”
“Our medical first responders and emergency medical technicians have reached a critical shortage in people interested in doing the work,” Prestin said. “This legislation would allow EMS agencies to advance the next generation of this crucial profession. We already allow high school students to train for these jobs. This package just ensures that those recruits can get into the workforce when they complete their coursework instead of waiting until their eighteenth birthday.”
“These bills are precisely the opposite of what the U.P. and Michigan needs,” said Prestin, R-Cedar River. “The most urgent need is to reduce costs and increase reliability. Even if the tiny contribution Michigan makes to global emissions mattered, which it doesn’t, this plan will make living and working here harder for our residents.”
“I am deeply disappointed. The U.P. delegation did not speak as one voice on this one,” said Prestin of Cedar River. “We had people coming out of the woodwork to oppose this downstate takeover – the fact that Rep. Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) voted for these awful bills is a complete abandonment of the citizens in the Upper Peninsula.”