Relief, hope and anger follow news that Appleton Coated mill to get 45-day extension

Questions remain on exact details of Appleton Coated’s sale to Industrial Assets Corp. after a marathon six-hours-plus hearing Monday in Outagamie County court.

Questions also remain on exactly what its 600-plus employees can expect – or hope for – in the long run.

It appears the mill has dodged the bullet of an immediate shutdown and liquidation,  but might only operate in a limited capacity for 45 days with a staff of 195, about a third of its workers.

Still, that’s a victory some are celebrating.

“We get a second chance,” said Tom Nelson, Outagamie County executive.

Nelson had initially objected to the mill’s sale to the liquidator and petitioned for more time for a different buyer to come forward in a joint statement with Combined Locks village president John Neumeier.

The stay gives him hope, he said.

“I cannot stress this enough that this is a good thing. We have 45 days to market this to a strategic buyer who will run it as a mill,” he said on Tuesday.

“We were able to put some life back into that mill,” said Michael Bolton, Menasha-based director of United Steel Workers District 2, which covers Wisconsin and Michigan.

“We’re going to be able to show Industrial Assets that we can be profitable. We can make the mill viable, and I think that’s a good deal. We’re going to be marketing the mill as a going concern rather than a shuttered mill,” he said.

Bolton said bringing back some workers was better than none. The amended deal could bring 130 of the union’s 430 hourly workers back at least temporarily.

“Those 430 union members are important, but this mill going down would affect 600 people. We can’t forget that there are some management people affected by this also,” he said.

A $20 million modified purchase agreement outlined verbally in the hearing Monday is now being refined by lawyers representing the buyer, receiver Michael Polsky and United Steel Workers over the next few days.
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