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InvestUP applauds collaboration leading to historic investments in Upper Peninsula

escanaba mill

Policymakers, stakeholders, and InvestUP work together to secure largest regional investment ever with unprecedented State incentive of $200M

ESCANABA, Mich. (January 31, 2023) After months of negotiations and collaboration with state and local stakeholders and policymakers, InvestUP, its partners and the region as a whole are celebrating global supplier Billerud’s unprecedented investment in the Upper Peninsula, anchored by a historic appropriation from the State of Michigan. Pending receipt of a feasibility study and final approval from its board, the Swedish paper and pulp manufacturer will invest more than one billion in a Delta County paper mill that will serve as the cornerstone of the company’s expansion into North America. It is the largest private-sector investment ever made in the Upper Peninsula region. In addition, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed Senate Bill 7, which allocates $200 million in grant funding toward the project, part of a $1.1 billion supplemental spending plan.

InvestUP took the lead on legislative strategy, advocacy and stakeholder outreach for the project, which culminated in a diverse impact group of state and local partners, including:

  • Bay de Noc Community College
  • DTE
  • Economic Development Leaders of Michigan
  • IBEW
  • Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association
  • InvestUP
  • Lake Superior State University
  • Michigan Association of Timberman
  • Michigan Association of Timberman Self Insurance Fund
  • Michigan Building Trades
  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • Michigan Forest Products Council
  • Michigan Manufacturers Association
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Northern Michigan University
  • Teamsters Local 406
  • United Steelworkers, District One
  • UP Building and Construction Trades Council

“This is truly a historic opportunity for the Upper Peninsula. Billerud’s investment and the award from the State of Michigan will have a huge positive impact on the U.P.’s economy,” remarked InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante. “It was made possible with incredible leadership and commitment from Governor Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, Speaker Joe Tate, and MEDC CEO Quentin Messer, as well as the hard work and advocacy of Senators John Damoose and Ed McBroom, and Representatives Jenn Hill, Greg Markkanen and David Prestin.” Fittante continued, “This project shows what’s possible when policymakers work together with stakeholders and private investors to make a lasting impact on our region. It also provides notice that the U.P. can and will compete in attracting advanced technology opportunities.”

North America is one of the largest and fastest growing markets in primary fiber containerboard and carton board. The project will transform the Escanaba Mill into a world-class paperboard facility. The transformative investment will result in a world-class, high-tech mill designed to serve new, emerging markets and operate with best-in-class environmental standards. This transformed mill is expected to be a catalyst for additional revitalization of the region, retaining an estimated 800 family-sustaining jobs. The anticipated annual economic impact is $153M in earnings and $18M in taxes paid.

“We thank Governor Whitmer, the legislature, and the MEDC for their investment support for Billerud’s planned transformation of our Escanaba Mill into a world-class paperboard production facility,” said Billerud America’s President Rob Kreizenbeck. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners in government to facilitate our investments for the benefit of the Escanaba community, Upper Peninsula and the State of Michigan.”

The mill just outside of Escanaba has been making paper since 1911. It is one of the top employers in Delta County and has an estimated $360 million annual economic impact on the area.


About InvestUP

InvestUP is a private sector-led economic development organization keenly focused on driving economic growth across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Founded by the region’s leading private sector businesses and the region’s leading universities, its mission is to deliver business and job growth across the peninsula.

As a part of our commitment to the Upper Peninsula, we collaborate with partners to share some of the most compelling stories about business and job growth across the region. Our goal through these stories is to get at the heart of what makes the U.P. unique — and to ensure these stories travel beyond our peninsula and broadly illustrate why the UP is the place to live and work.

If you have an idea for an article, please contact a staff or board member at InvestUP.

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