Phoenix Paper LLC plans to invest $200 million to build a paper recycling facility on the grounds of the Wickliffe mill it purchased only a year ago. “This new recycling facility will bring a tremendous amount of additional economic activity to the West Kentucky region for decades to come. The project will further support Phoenix Paper’s commitment to create 500 good-paying jobs in Ballard County,” , Gov. Matt Bevin said. “The company’s ongoing investment in the Wickliffe region is truly proving transformative, and it further demonstrates how Kentucky leads the way as a destination for international investment in engineering and manufacturing.”
Company leaders plan to use the existing site to build a paper-and-pulp recycling facility. With an estimated 700,000-ton annual capacity, the new facility will receive post-consumer cardboard and mixed paper from various regional locations. Following cleaning and screening of the raw material, the stock will be formed and dried into industrial pulp and finished paper. Current design and equipment specifications are being finalized with construction to begin before the end of the year. The project is expected to be completed within 14 to 18 months.
Phoenix Paper’s expansion comes as the Bevin administration seeks to attract investment from China. Amid national-level tensions, Kentucky has led the way in laying groundwork for future business and job-creation opportunities between the two countries, which respectively represent the world’s largest and second-largest economies.
This past May in Lexington, Ky. hosted the U.S.-China Governors Collaboration Summit, a gathering of U.S. and Chinese leaders, financiers and private companies to promote further collaboration and economic development between China’s provinces and U.S. states. Executives from the Bank of China attended, providing opportunities to strengthen relationships with Kentucky leaders. Phoenix Paper is a longtime client of the Bank of China.
“Bank of China has held preliminary meetings aimed at providing additional funding for Phoenix Paper’s recycling project, which would support hundreds of jobs in Kentucky, as part of the governor’s direct efforts to attract Chinese investment during the recent summit,” said Raymond Qiao, chief lending officer for the Bank of China USA.
The project also represents a creative, pro-business and environmentally sustainable example of an approach to the increasing problem of mixed paper and cardboard recycling piling up across the U.S. Early in 2018, China stopped importing multiple types of materials from the U.S. for recycling. The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection is working with Phoenix Paper to ensure all necessary environmental permits are in place prior to opening.