- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

COURTLAND, Ala. (AP) - A year after International Paper announced that it would close a north Alabama mill because of declining demand, there’s much uncertainty about the site’s future.

Some see the 2,200 acres as key to Lawrence County’s industrial and economic future, The Decatur Daily reported (https://bit.ly/1tH4SqS). But the land is still owned by International Paper, and no new industry is set to move in.

International Paper has no further plan for the site at this time, company spokeswoman Laura Gipson told the Decatur newspaper.

“Our focus currently is on executing a safe closure of the facility,” she said.

A team of fewer than two dozen people is left at the mill to complete its closure, she added.

Tony Stockton, executive director of the Lawrence County Industrial Development Board, said he hasn’t heard of any prospects regarding the site.

“As for the IP site, we’re where we were a year ago,” Stockton said.

As for the prospects of a sale, International Paper would be interested in considering proposals as long as any new business moving into the site does not compete with it, said Lawrence County Commissioner Bobby Burch. The land is worth $1.7 million, Revenue Commissioner Tommy Praytor said.

Burch is the chairman of a committee formed to consider future uses of the site and to study its economic impact on local governments. The mill’s closure has wiped out revenue for small businesses and governments alike, the Decatur Daily reported.

County commissioners expect a $414,000 loss in property taxes next fiscal year, for instance.

The board of education predicts a $2.2 million shortfall for the 2017-18 school year, which could lead to cuts in the Advance Placement program and coaching supplements, the Decatur newspaper reported.

Memphis-based International Paper announced on Sept. 11, 2013, that the plant in Courtland would close. It was Lawrence County’s largest employer, and the announcement stunned residents and community leaders.

“It’s going to be a terrible Christmas for 1,100 workers who come from throughout northwest Alabama,” state Sen. Roger Bedford said when the announcement was made.


Information from: The Decatur Daily, https://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml



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