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Bill passes to assist in Verso Wisconsin Rapids mill purchase

MADISON, Wisconsin (From news reports) -- On June 8, the State Assembly's Committee on State Affairs voted to pass Assembly Bill No. 367 (AB 367), which will provide state assistance to support the purchase of the former Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids.

AB 367 was introduced by Rep. Scott Krug (R-Rome) and Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) in late May.

An amendment was added to the bill to provide assistance with the purchase of the paper mill in Park Falls. As amended, the bill would provide loans from two sources in support of each purchase.

The Wisconsin Rapids mill sale would be provided with a $50 million loan from federal stimulus money, which would have to be approved by Governor Tony Evers, and a $50 million loan from the State of Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL).

The Park Falls mill sale would be provided with loans of $15 million, one loan coming from stimulus money and one loan coming from BCPL.

Neither sale will be paid for entirely by the loans. The prospective buyers of both mills will need to raise additional money to reach the sale prices on the mills. They have been raising funds from investors for this purpose.

The Wisconsin Rapids mill would be purchased by the Consolidated Cooperative of Rhinelander, a co-op entity formed with the backing of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.

Assistance and input is being provided to the new co-op by University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and by the Rural Development team at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"I think this has been a great step forward," stated Krug. "We had a great public hearing on this bill last week. More than 60 people registered support for our bill at a public hearing last week. We can put two paper mills back to work and bring back hundreds of good family-supporting jobs."

Krug expects AB 367 to be voted on by the State Assembly later this month.

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