Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Samoa Pulp Mill Not Dead Yet

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 4:32 PM

So says Freshwater Tissue's Bob Simpson, addressing the flurry of attention that followed a post -- since removed -- by blogger, former mill worker and newly elected Harbor Commissioner Richard Marks. Said post anounced that the mill would fire up again in April. No further information was provided.

Here's the deal:

After being denied federal stimulus funds -- thought to be the last hope for the mill -- Freshwater Tissue Co. revised its business plan, somehow reducing up-front capital requirements from $409 million to just $50 million. Simpson said he's found a European pulp and paper trading company willing to purchase 100 percent of the pulp produced at the mill and ship it to customers in China, some of whom would process the pulp, per Freshwater Tissue specifications, into chlorine-free toilet paper, which would then be shipped back and marketed here in the U.S. Once the mill got up and running, Freshwater Tissue Co. would have two years, give or take, to find the balance of necessary funding, Simpson said.

One hitch: "We don't have $50 million any more than we have $409 million," Simpson said.

Still, he believes the lower startup figure makes the goal more attainable. Over the next three to four weeks, he'll attempt to cobble together that $50 mil through Industrial Development District bonds, state-operated loan programs and other sources. Why the timeline? Because, Simpson said, he's already received offers for mill equipment, which, in light of the expected closure, was set to be sold off piece by piece.

"Now we have a race against time," Simpson said. "At the end of that period, we have to decide whether to start accepting those offers."

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Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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