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Clearwater Paper invests $22 million, adds jobs in Shelby, North Carolina

SHELBY, N.C. (From news reports) -- Clearwater Paper will invest almost $22.6 million and add 13 new jobs as it expands its operations in Shelby, the company announced Wednesday.

The private label tissue manufacturer currently makes store-brand bathroom tissue, paper towels and napkins at its 400-acre facility in Shelby where it now employs more than 600 workers. The expansion will add a facial tissue line to its operations.

This marks Clearwater Paper's third major expansion at the site since first locating there in 2010, according to the company.

The jobs will have an annual salary of $60,759, which exceeds the county's average annual salary of $48,310. The Spokane, Washington-based company's average annual payroll in Cleveland County is more than $41 million.

"Clearwater Paper chose Shelby for its newest facial tissue line due to its proximity to our customers, a growing local skilled workforce and a history of excellent working relationships with the city of Shelby, Cleveland County and the state of North Carolina," said Michael Urlick, Clearwater Paper's senior vice president of consumer products, in a release. "Our customers require quality products delivered on time. This location coupled with our outstanding Shelby team can make it happen."

Clearwater Paper is already in the top five of private employers in Shelby, says Brandon Ruppe, the city's economic development director. "The highest honor in economic development is when an existing business chooses to grow in your community, and they had options," says Ruppe.

Clearwater Paper sells its products to major retailers, including grocery, club, mass merchants and discount stores. In other locations, the company produces paperboard used by printers and packaging converters, and offers services that include custom sheeting, slitting and cutting.

Clearwater has 14 operations in 13 states. It employs about 3,800 workers in the U.S. and had $2.1 billion in sales last year, according to the company. The Shelby location is its only operation in North Carolina.

Clearwater came to Shelby after textiles were already in a steep decline and Cleveland County was struggling to recover from the Great Recession. The company's arrival helped stem the county's period of high unemployment, says Ruppe, who has been working in economic development in Cleveland County since 2022 and in his current role with the city since April.

When the company arrived in Shelby in 2010, it promised a $260 million investment that would create 250 jobs. In 2017, it had an approximate $340 million expansion that added another 180 jobs.

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