Mill work boosts economy

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Some 800 contractors involved in IP repurposing

FRANKLIN—Converting the International Paper mill to produce fluff pulp is bringing life back to Franklin’s economy.

With up to 800 contractors and 225 mill employees preparing for the June startup, restaurants, hotels, the airport and the housing market are seeing a boost.

“It’s good to see some activity again,” said Airport Manager Jimmy Gray, who began to see an increase in corporate traffic and fuel sales in September. “It’s been a steady increase. We’ve seen several aircraft a week due to the mill.”

The housing market has benefited from the mill’s reopening and the planned opening of a Green Mountain Coffee Roasters packaging and distribution facility in Windsor and Enviva Courtland Pellets in Southampton County, said Franklin Realtor Mary Lilley.

“We’ve seen an increase in activity and a sales increase too,” Lilley said, noting the uptick began before Christmas. “I think we’re getting more inquiries because of them and seeing more sales because of them.”

Golden Skillet restaurant on Armory Drive reports an increase in business over the past few months.

Manager Charlene Holley said the restaurant has been selling lunches to workers involved with the mill project.

“It’s good to see,” Holley said. “Business was so low. We had business, but it wasn’t like it was before IP closed.”

Days Inn on Armory Drive has also benefited from out-of-town contractors.

“We are somewhat busier,” said Manager C.K. Pandit. “Since about January, we’ve seen a lot of workers.”