ST Tissue announces $35M expansion

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2016

ST Tissue LLC, a manufacturer of napkins, toilet paper and paper towels operating out of the International Paper campus near Franklin, will invest $35 million to expand its operations into Isle of Wight County, according to an announcement by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday morning. The expansion is expected to create 50 new jobs, each with an average salary of $53,000 annually.

During the announcement, McAuliffe presented Franklin Mayor Frank Rabil and Chairman of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors Rex Alphin with a check for $167,000 from Virginia’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund, intended to help Isle of Wight County and the City of Franklin assist ST Tissue with its expansion and create incentives for further economic development.

“In 2013, ST Tissue resurrected a former paper mill and converted it into a leading paper products manufacturing facility that continues to grow and thrive in Isle of Wight County,” said McAuliffe, speaking at the event. “We are proud that this important corporate partner put citizens back to work and has made the decision to further invest in its operation and workforce.”

According to Amanda Jarratt, President and CEO of Franklin/Southampton Economic Development, the amount from the Opportunity Fund has to be matched by the localities, so the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight County came together to provide incentives in that amount. The funds will be used to assist with infrastructure improvements being made by the company.

ST Tissue Vice President Sahil Tak said, “Virginia is one of the most forward-thinking states in terms of cultivating its business ecosystem. We witnessed it first-hand as we built our mill in Isle of Wight in 2013 — the location, the workforce, the incentives from the state and local communities — it all adds up to a big advantage for Virginia when vying to attract new business. The state, and especially the community in Isle of Wight and Franklin, welcomed this opportunity with open arms and ushered this project forward against some very tough odds.”

ST Tissue has operated out of the International Paper campus since 2013 following the mill’s closing in 2010 and subsequent re-opening, albeit as a smaller operation.

“It was the spring of 2010, and this very ground you’re standing on today was a ghost town; International paper had just closed the mill with no indication of future action,” said Isle of Wight County Supervisors’ Chairman Rex Alphin, addressing McAuliffe. “This particular industry was the heartbeat of Franklin, and they were leaving. Nobody had any hope anything would be resurrected. The fact that we’re standing here today in 2016 with the governor announcing further expansion is a testament to the fortitude of this community. All of the Commonwealth of Virginia is open for business. Please grab a handful of our peanuts for a snack on the way home and a Smithfield ham for dinner tonight.”