What a feeling

Published 10:42 am Saturday, May 26, 2012

Driving down Armory Drive, it’s hard to miss the steam rising again from Franklin’s International Paper mill.

It’s a great feeling — a feeling that the economy is rebounding.

Just 2½ years ago, Western Tidewater was blown away with the news that the paper mill that made this community’s economy thrive was closing. More than 1,100 lost jobs and their future became unknown. The mill had been part of the area for more than 100 years.

International Paper 18 months later followed with a first; for the first time in company history, executives decided to reopen and repurpose one of its mills. IP is investing $83 million into the Franklin facility to produce fluff pulp, which is used in diapers and other absorbent materials.

The new plant is expected to employ more than 200. More than 800 construction workers have been on site for months and will remain for several weeks.

Other economic news is lifting our spirits, including the five-year projection for 800 jobs that will be created when Green Mountain Coffee Roasters opens in Windsor and another 72 jobs when Courtland Enviva Pellets opens in Southampton County.

Western Tidewater has plenty on the horizon.