Verso suspends active search for buyer
For the City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Wisconsin Rapids Together Task Force met by conference call on Oct. 21 and learned that the Verso Corporation suspended their active search for a buyer for the Wisconsin Rapids mill.
Verso closed the mill in July 2020, ceasing production and placing the mill up for sale.
The task force was created to assist the central Wisconsin community in “accessing resources and assistance in the face of the closing of the Verso Mill in Wisconsin Rapids.” The task force also aides in exploring options for the mill and its employees.
“Verso has employed a consultant, Moelis and Company, to market and sell the mill. They are suspending the active search for a buyer for the mill due to the difficult market and COVID-19. Those in attendance at the task force meeting asked questions on an ideal economy for activating the search. These benchmarks would be beneficial for further understand Verso’s needs for marketing. This information is not currently available,” the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce said in a release.
“Prior to the announcement from the Board of Directors today, a Wisconsin-based effort has been launched by the Great Lakes Timber Producers Association of Rhinelander to form a cooperative which would buy and operate the mill. This effort would reestablish the mill as a local employer and would provide an outlet for the sale of Wisconsin softwood for use as paper. The group has reached out to Verso. The Verso mill formerly purchased around one-quarter of the softwood cut for paper pulp annually in Wisconsin and was an important source of work for loggers and truckers in the timber industry as well as for the employees of the mill itself.”
“I realize that this is a business decision,” task force member, Representative Scott Krug stated. “And I realize that the economic difficulties stemming from COVID and the pandemic helped Verso decide to close the mill and now are making it hard for Verso to find a buyer. However, there are 900 families in our area who are affected by this. These people need to know that they – and their community – matter, and are not just side-effects of a dollars-and-cents decision by an Ohio company.”
“The Timber Producers Cooperative is a serious potential buyer for this mill,” said Senator Patrick Testin, another task force member, “and we on the task force think it is the best avenue we know of for getting the mill operating again. However, today we learned that Verso is putting efforts to sell the mill on the back burner. Our community deserves better.”
“We want two things. We want Verso to get serious about selling this mill. No more run around. We want them to tell us, who can a buyer talk to? What is it going to take?”
For more information on the task force, visit https://legis.wisconsin.gov/rapidstogether.