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Assembly Passes Bill to Help Save Rapids, Park Falls Paper Mills

Ben Meyer/WXPR

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill designed to save two shuttered paper mills. The bill passed Tuesday would make available a $50 million loan to a cooperative that wants to buy the Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids and make a $15 million loan for a cooperative working to purchase the Park Falls paper mill. The money would come from federal coronavirus relief money. The bill came after a year of discussion with state, local and federal officials about how to save the Verso mill, which closed in June 2020 after more than a hundred years of operation. It employed 900 people. As recently as a few years ago, the Park Falls mill employed more than 300 people. Gov. Tony Evers had proposed a similar loan program earlier this year. But on Tuesday night, he expressed disappointment that the Assembly failed to consider an amendment Evers says would ensure the loan meets federal requirements.