Paper Mill Eliminating 300 MN Jobs

Boise’s job cuts are the latest in a series of blows to Minnesota’s wood products industry.

An Idaho-based company said Thursday that it plans to close down two of its paper machines in International Falls—a move that will eliminate 300 Minnesota jobs.

Boise, Inc., an Idaho-based manufacturer of packaging and paper products, disclosed the job cuts in conjunction with its first-quarter financial results. For the quarter that ended March 31, the company reported a net loss of $1.2 million, or $0.01 per share, compared to net income of $21.3 million, or $0.21 per share, for the same period in 2012. Revenue in its paper business fell 13 percent during the period to $332.7 million.

Boise said it plans to close two paper machines at its International Falls mill no later than the fourth quarter of this year. The company said it is facing a decline in demand for its products, and the move will allow it to “focus our efforts on key products and machines that drive our profitability, improve our cash flow, and enhance the overall competitiveness of our International Falls mill and our paper business.”

“We understand the impact this decision has on our dedicated employees, as well as the community of International Falls,” the company said in a statement. “We appreciate their efforts and support over the years.”

Boise has a total of four paper machines in International Falls, so it is closing half of them, according to a report by the Duluth News Tribune. Boise Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Virginia Aulin told the Duluth newspaper that the company will retain about 580 employees at its International Falls mill to run its remaining two paper machines, which produce uncoated white office paper and the pulp that’s made into paper.

Boise’s announcement is the latest in a series of blows to Minnesota’s wood products industry. Last fall, Verso Paper Corporation announced it would permanently shutter its Sartell paper mill that was damaged in an explosion and fire. The mill employed about 260 people.

Then in February, news surfaced that Wausau Paper Corporation would close its Brainerd mill, putting about 130 people out of work.

Additionally, last August, Georgia-Pacific reportedly announced plans to close its Duluth hardboard plant, cutting 141 jobs; and in recent years there have been jobs shed in the industry in Grand Rapids, Bemidji, Cook, and Deerwood, according to the Duluth News Tribune.