International Paper to invest $300 million in Alabama mill

International Paper to invest $300 million in Alabama mill
International Paper's Riverdale Mill in Dallas County is expanding to widen the range of paper products it produces. (International Paper)

International Paper plans to invest around $300 million in its Riverdale Mill in Dallas County to expand the company’s industrial packaging business, adding momentum to a significant growth spurt for the state’s forest products industry.

Memphis, Tennessee-based International Paper (IP) said the investment will convert its No. 15 paper machine at the Selma mill to produce high-quality whitetop linerboard and containerboard by mid-2019. The machine now produces uncoated freesheet, the type of paper commonly used in offices.

“Our customers expect us to support their growth, and this machine conversion will meet their needs,” said Tim Nicholls, IP’s senior vice president for industrial packaging in the Americas. “Our industrial packaging business continues to focus on our customers in strategic channels including our box business, domestic and export containerboard and specialty grades,” he added.

The investment will add 450,000 tons of annual capacity, with flexibility to shift between containerboard products. It also positions the company to grow its industrial packaging business and protect jobs at the Riverdale mill, which will remain a significant supplier of uncoated freesheet.

Sector growth

Alabama’s forest products industry has been surging for more than a year.

Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted the announcement of International Paper’s $300 million investment in expanding its Alabama mill. (Contributed)

Last year, the sector recorded projects involving $1.2 billion in new investment and more than 1,000 anticipated new jobs, according to the Alabama Forestry Association and the 2016 New and Expanding Industry Report issued by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

The investment total made forest products the state’s top individual Accelerate Alabama target industry for 2016, surpassing the hard-charging automotive and aerospace industries, which registered impressive totals of their own.

IP’s investment, along with other significant projects announced in recent months, indicates that the sector is sustaining its growth arc through late 2017. Read a story about that growth.

“Alabama’s forest products industry is in the midst of a prolonged upswing that has brought a significant amount of new capital investment and jobs to the state, solidifying the industry’s status as a key economic driver,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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