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Mon, Oct 22, 2018 06:37
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Management Side
Kimberly-Clark decides to wait on Wisconsin closure decision

FOX CROSSING, Wisconsin (From news reports) -- Kimberly-Clark Corp. will delay the decision to close its Cold Spring plant, according to an email sent to employees Monday.

The company had set a Sept. 30 deadline for the state Senate to pass a tax incentive package that would have kept the facility open.

But with that deadline come and gone, K-C apparently bowed to the collective wishes of union officials and lawmakers who had lobbied the company to keep the facility open and its 500 jobs remaining in the Fox Cities.

On Tuesday morning, Gov. Scott Walker said the Senate will meet in an extraordinary session on Nov. 12 to vote on the incentive package, Assembly Bill 963.

K-C did not respond to a request for information Monday, but an employee forwarded an email sent to workers that confirmed the company is willing to wait.

"I have been informed that the Governor and others in the state legislature have asked Kimberly-Clark to allow more time for them to work on securing support for this legislation," plant manager Paul Lombardi wrote to employees.

"The company has had several productive conversations regarding this, and is currently considering this request. Based on this, it will delay its final decision on the Neenah Cold Spring Facility at this time," he said.

Gov. Scott Walker told reporters in Milwaukee Monday morning he had had talks over the weekend with Kimberly-Clark leaders, union officials and lawmakers.

"I'm cautiously optimistic we'll get the update and have something positive to announce later today," Walker said at a campaign stop.

Speaking after a 2 p.m. appearance at Ariens Co. in Brillion, Walker emphasized that the situation was still fluid.

"Nobody's said, 'Hey the timeline has passed, we're done,'" he said in Brillion. "This is something we've been working on, even throughout the weekend, and we'll be having some more discussions later today. We're not giving up in any way."

Walker said that post-election (after Nov. 6) may be an ideal time to address a plan to keep the jobs here.

"This is not an old paper plant, these are not old tired jobs," Walker said. "These are consumer goods at the cutting edge of technology. ... They've made millions of dollars of investment and if we're able to get this worked out, not only do we save those jobs but we have the potential to add significant new investment and potentially even more jobs to that site."

In January, K-C said two Fox Cities facilities will be closed in the future - Neenah Nonwovens and the Cold Spring plant in Fox Crossing - as part of its global cost-cutting initiative that would shutter 10 plants worldwide and eliminate up to 5,500 jobs. The two combined Fox Cities facilities have about 600 jobs.

The company later told lawmakers it will still close the Neenah Nonwovens plant, which has about 110 jobs, but would consider a state tax incentive package to keep its Cold Spring plant operating.

It had imposed a Sept. 30 deadline for the state Senate to pass a package of tax incentives worth tens of millions of dollars that was previously approved by the Assembly.

The Senate is now slated to meet in an extraordinary session Nov. 12, post-election, to vote on the bill.


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