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‘Open for business’

Governor visits Brewton, GP Mill

“Alabama is open for business” was the message Saturday from Gov. Kay Ivey as she helped to celebrate the completion of Georgia Pacific’s “Project Phoenix” project.

The nearly $400 million, two-year project to modernize and streamline equipment in the mill’s recovery boiler system allows the mill to generate its own energy using natural gas and biofuel residuals from the paper-making process.

Ivey, on her first visit to Brewton, lauded the company’s overall $438 million investment.

“It’s a testament to the continued opportunity for the success of economic development in Alabama,” Ivey said. “Our state is a great place to live, work and raise a family. It’s a new day in Alabama, and we’re open for business.”

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of GP’s $355 million acquisition of the Brewton Mill from Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. In the last five years, GP has invested approximately $8.5 billion in operations across the country.

Stephanie Snodgrass | The Brewton Standard
Jeff Joyce, GP-Brewton mill vice president and general manager, and Gov. Kay Ivey talk before the day’s ceremony began.

“The investments in Brewton, and across Alabama, drive home our focus on continuously improving operations and meeting the needs of our customers, our company and our communities for the long-term,” said GP CEO and president Christian Fisher. “I’m proud of the hard work and dedication from our 450 Brewton employees, and I’m confident that the mill is posed for continued success.”

Saturday’s event welcomed employees and their families as a show of appreciation for that support and dedication. Recognized during the day was Brewton’s Glen Freeman, a 58-year GP employee. The achievement marks him as the company’s longest serving employee.

“We are very happy for the Brewton mill team and proud to have this mill as part of our community,” said Brewton mayor Yank Lovelace. “This project and others at the mill demonstrate GP’s intent to remain a valued business partner in the region for years to come.”

On the heels of this completion, Brewton will kick off another $50 million upgrade investment to the site’s paperboard machine. Slated to begin in late summer, the project will improve the quality of the mill’s white-top linerboard product and increase the mill’s competitiveness.

“(Saturday was) not just a celebration of this project, it (was) also a day to acknowledge the hard work and commitment our employees made in making this a reality for the mill,” said Jeff Joyce, Brewton mill’s vice president and general manager. “It’s about recognizing what we’ve achieved, celebrating those successes and turning our focus to our future and the other important projects planned for our long-term growth.”