The NewPage Paper Corporation is laying off five percent of its workforce, including people who work at its mills in central Wisconsin. The news reflects the continuing problems of the paper industry.
1,700 people work at the NewPage mills in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, and Biron. Company spokesman Cliff Bowers says he can't reveal how many of them will be laid off. 300 will lose their jobs nationwide. Bowers attributes the cutback to the continuing struggles of America's paper industry, due to a greater reliance on e-mail, and competition from China. Melissa Reichert, President of the regional Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, says the layoffs will have a ripple effect: "It will certainly affect the community greatly, beyond just the immediate job losses. We have a lot of suppliers to the mills in the area."
Reichert says the Chamber is trying to make the Wisconsin Rapids area less reliant on the paper industry, because of its continuing economic decline. "It certainly isn't taking us by surprise that there will be additional cutbacks in the paper industry. That's why we're working very hard to diversify our economy by building entrepreneurs and supporting our food processing industry as well."
NewPage spokesman Cliff Bowers says the company remains committed to the American market, and is not considering closing any of its central Wisconsin mills. He would not allow us to record the interview.