Wisconsin’s paper industry continues to lead the nation in the number of paper mills, employees and the value of products sold, according to a study released in August by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
The study found Wisconsin’s pulp, paper and converting industries directly generated $18.2 billion in economic output and employed more than 30,000 workers in 2018. The industry’s total contributions to the state’s economy — including direct, indirect and induced benefits — come to more than $28.8 billion and more than 95,000 jobs.
The industry’s strength is visible in several new and upgraded paper mill projects throughout the state, says Scott Suder, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council. For example, Green Bay Packaging is building a new $500 million paper plant — the state’s first new mill in decades.
“We have a diverse mix of production in the state amongst a diverse number of mill owners,” he says. “That and a substantial presence in specialty grades that meet customer needs in high-performance industrial applications” are all key to the industry’s strength.
The study also found the industry is better positioned than many of its peers to meet demands for new products because of investments in plant upgrades, technological advances and improved worker training.
“Growth areas comprise specialty papers produced by Wisconsin’s mill along with high-performance coated and treated papers arising from mills and downstream converters. High-performance food packaging with performance characteristics improves customer experience, usability and provides better end-of-life disposal options,” Suder says.