Brainerd's Mayor talks about Wausau Paper mill closing - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Brainerd's Mayor talks about Wausau Paper mill closing

We're learning more about Wausau Paper's decision to close its mill in Brainerd, Minnesota.

The company made that announcement on Thursday.

At this time, Wausau Paper officials say the decision to close its mill in Brainerd has no impact on the mills in Wisconsin. They say they're still planning to sell them. Meanwhile, a Minnesota town is getting ready to say goodbye to one of its economic strongholds.

 "It was a shock, and a surprise and a disappointment," said Brainerd Mayor James Wallin.
Wallin says the paper mill there has been a big part of his community for years.

"We have high enough unemployment as it is," said Wallin.
Wallin says he was hopeful when Wausau Paper bought the mill in the town of 13,000 a few years ago.

"That to me was a sunshiny day and everything was beautiful," said Wallin. "And now the clouds came over and now we have to find sunshine again."

The mill is set to close in the next few months.
Wausau paper officials declined to speak on camera on Friday, but in a phone interview a spokesman said the Minnesota mill was losing too much money.

"As we look to sell the technical specialty business, that becomes more challenging," said Perry Grueber, Wausau Paper Director of Investor Relations. "So the closure of the mill was necessary in order to achieve acceptable levels of profitability for the business"

But what does this announcement mean for the two mills in our area?

In January, Wausau Paper announced it would sell its mills in Minnesota, Rhinelander and Mosinee. Now, a month later, the Minnesota mill is not being sold, but instead closing.

So, could the Wisconsin mills face the same fate as the one in Minnesota?

"The way I can answer that is, Mosinee and Rhinelander are performing well," said Grueber. "You know our interests is running the technical specialty business in an optimal fashion and a profitable fashion."

Company officials say they are currently reviewing several potential investors for the Wisconsin mills. But they wouldn't elaborate on the process.

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