Paper mill expected to bring S.C. 1,000 jobs

05/14/2010 12:00 AM

05/14/2010 12:06 AM

GREENVILLE - A $1 billion investment that could bring 1,000 jobs to Anderson County is expected to be announced today when a New York-based company reveals its decision to build a paper-product facility.

State Rep. Dan Cooper, a Piedmont Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said First Quality Enterprises Inc. of Great Neck, N.Y., will announce it will build the plant in Anderson County.

A spokesman at First Quality's headquarters wouldn't confirm the project.

"We've made no public announcement about any project yet," the spokesman, Moshe Oppenheim, said Thursday. "Unless and until we make a public announcement, we cannot issue any statements."

First Quality said last July it would build an additional tissue and towel manufacturing facility.

The company said its First Quality Tissue division was looking at two undisclosed locations to make 70,000 tons of paper tissue and paper towels a year. The company said at the time it expected the plant to be operating in 2011.

Published reports said First Quality was planning a 2 million-square-foot paper products mill in either Anderson or Augusta.

The project would mark a huge economic success for Anderson County, which has been struggling with an unemployment rate that stood at 12.5 percent in March, the latest available figure from the state Employment Security Commission. That was down from 14 percent in February.

State officials issued media advisories Thursday, saying Gov. Mark Sanford would join officials from the Department of Commerce and Anderson County to make "a significant economic development announcement" today at the Anderson Civic Center.

The advisories offered no details of the announcement. A governor's spokesman confirmed Sanford planned to attend but declined further comment. Neither commerce officials nor county representatives could be reached.

Robert Scott, president of the South Carolina Forestry Association, has said that the kind of plant First Quality announced last year wouldn't emit the odor typically associated with a paper mill because it wouldn't process raw timber to make paper pulp but would instead process pulp to make consumer products.

The plant is the type of "green industry" South Carolina is seeking, Scott said.

According to the company's Web site, First Quality and its affiliates are a closely held diversified group of companies manufacturing, selling and distributing branded and private label absorbent hygiene, paper and nonwoven products to the health care, retail and commercial markets.

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