In a bill written by Representative Scott Krug of Nekoosa, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation would issue a $50 million loan to the co-op looking to buy the idled Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids.
That bill will get a hearing Wednesday in Madison.
Krug said the measure would use COVID-19 stimulus funds to make sure the facility starts producing again.
“The closure of this mill in Wisconsin Rapids was directly related to COVID according to the company, just because of the lack of business use of the paper grades they used,” Krug said. “It’s teed up perfectly for what the funds from the government are set up to do.”
Krug said he's proposed the single bill to take politics out of the project, especially after Governor Evers' comments yesterday about possibly vetoing the state budget.
He said he knows how important this project is for people in the Northwoods.
“I honestly get more emails and phone calls from people in the Northwoods than I’ve heard from people in Wisconsin Rapids because that’s how much of an impact this has on the upper two-thirds of the state of Wisconsin,” he said.
He said last week's fire at the facility will have no impact on the potential sale.
Krug also noted that the prospective co-op would need to confirm their funding before any government dollars would go into the project, to make sure they have "skin in the game."
Others who have signaled their support for the bill include Republicans Patrick Testin, Pat Snyder, Jim Edming, and John Spiros. It's unclear if Governor Evers would support the measure.