From its billowing stacks of smoke to its trademark scent, nearly everyone in Ouachita Parish is familiar with the “Paper Mill”.
“It’s one of the main businesses around here that keeps it going.”, says Erica Horn, who lives in West Monroe.
It’s one of the largest employers in the region and the biggest paper-mill in the world.
“It’s always very busy, and lots of people working.”, says Horn.
“While the paper mill is a staple for those who live on the west side of the river, there’s new information from its operating company Graphic Packaging that says they could be looking to invest money in a new facility just over the Ouachita River in Monroe. Now those who live in West Monroe are concerned about what that could mean for them.”
“If they move to Monroe, everybody’s gotta move to Monroe, and that means they’ll take some of our jobs away from here.”, explains Michael Lewis, who also lives in West Monroe.
Others, however, are concerned.
“It’s not going anywhere.”, says Robert Gossett, in West Monroe.
According to Graphic Packaging, they’re planning to invest up to $70 million dollars in a new facility, but there’s no official word on an exact location. They’ll neither confirm nor deny whether it would be in Monroe.
The new facility’s function is to serve as the location where paper made inside the West Monroe mill would be converted into the cartons you see on grocery store shelves.
Graphic Packaging operates the paper mill and two converting plants in West Monroe.
The mill and its employeess will NOT be affected, but a reduction in staff at the two plants is expected.
The company says they’re still in the process of reaching out to local officials, but hope to have the new facility fully operational by early 2019.