International Paper to boost investment in Alabama mill to $522.7 million

In September 2017, IP announced plans to invest around $300 million at the Selma plant as part of a strategic plan to grow its industrial packaging business.

The additional investment expands on those plans to convert a line making uncoated freesheet, or copy paper, to the production of high-quality whitetop and kraft linerboard, as well as containerboard. These products are important to the packaging industry, which is experiencing a boom due to surging levels of e-commerce.

“Our system runs most effectively when there is flexibility, and this conversion will also help us define a more streamlined and balanced system overall,” Tim Nicholls, IP’s senior vice president, Industrial Packaging the Americas, said last September.

Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Wayne Vardaman recently briefed county leaders on the IP project, which will be supported by abatements of non-educational property and sales and use taxes.

“This is a tremendous investment in our community, and solidifies the presence of IP in Selma and Dallas County,” Vardaman said. “IP is Dallas County’s largest employer with over 750 employees and numerous indirect jobs. These employees now know that the Riverdale Mill is here to stay.”

Vince Perez, a project manager at the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the IP project is taking advantage of the Alabama Reinvestment Act, a new version of the traditional abatement act used on projects. The new abatements are designed to assist companies reinvesting in a facility prevent it from becoming a “legacy plant,” which ceases to get new investment and sheds jobs.

“This project is another indication of International Paper’s strong commitment to its Riverdale Mill and its workforce there,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“It’s a great example of a company preserving its investment in a facility, and the jobs there, by pivoting output from one product to another that is in greater demand,” he added.

He said IP will donate $250,000 per year to the county for six years as an existing Industrial Development bond winds down and no taxes would be due. When the bond matures, the county will receive over $5 million in education taxes annually. Once the abatement period ends, the county will receive even more money in non-educational property taxes, he added.
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