Sun Paper plans to boost its investment in a proposed Arkansas mill from around $1.3 billion to $1.8 billion. The new plans announced Tuesday also include projected employment rising from 250 to 350 new jobs.
Also, instead of being a bio-products mill, Sun Paper’s planned Clark County facility will produce linerboard, one of the two products used to make cardboard boxes. There has been a growing worldwide demand for cardboard boxes, in part due to the increase in next-day delivery and online shopping.
"The announcement of the initial Sun Paper $1.3 billion investment has been one of the largest in our state’s history,” Arkansas Economic Development Executive Director Mike Preston said in a statement. “The new focus will bring an even larger investment and more jobs to the state than anticipated, and we couldn’t be more pleased to see that.”
The plant is also expected to have a positive economic impact on the timber industry in south Arkansas.
“The good news for Arkansas is an increased investment, increased number of jobs, and an increased use of raw materials. Timber producers in south Arkansas have been enthusiastic supporters of the project since the site selection news was first released,” noted the statement.
Arkansas Forestry Commission data shows that between 2011 and 2015 Arkansas grew approximately 25 million tons of pine timber, the product that Sun Paper will rely on heavily. Roughly 16.1 million tons of pine timber were harvested leaving 8.9 million tons across the state. Sun Paper could use up to 4 million tons of pine timber per year, the commission said.