‘Coalition Conversation’ in Wisconsin Rapids Seeks to Improve State’s Economic Growth

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) – The Wisconsin Paper Council is among 60 finalists likely to receive a grant under the U.S. bailout. A discussion with the US Economic Development Administration and the Paper Council took place Monday at the Mid-State campus in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Conversation Coalition’s focus is the importance of economic growth in central Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Paper Council works to create more jobs in the state by improving the paper and forestry industry.

Wisconsin is the nation’s largest paper-producing state. Despite the industry’s success, the paper board and the US Department of Commerce want to see even more growth.

“It’s about everyone bringing their best assets, their best ideas, bringing together a proposition that’s going to generate industry strength but also generate jobs,” said the Assistant Secretary of the United States Economic Development Administration. United, Alejandra Castillo.

Castillo visited Wisconsin on Monday as one of 12 other stops nationwide. The United States Economic Development Administration is hosting what is called the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge”. There will be 20 to 30 candidates in the country who will receive up to $100 million, if chosen.

“It’s just amazing to see our strength in so many different industries and you can pick any community across the country,” Castillo said.

The closure of the Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids has opened discussions about improving the paper and forestry operations. The grant money would help revitalize an industry that is changing day by day. The council hopes to incorporate more technology and create more jobs.

“It gives us a chance to redefine. To leave the status quo behind and move forward, to really, really bring value to our rural communities and to every person,” said Wisconsin Paper Council member Stacey Johnson.

Stacey Johnson said Wisconsin has some of the healthiest forests in the country. It’s one of their goals to use that and keep the jobs here.

“The future is bright, it’s exciting and we’re here to help lead that path,” Johnson said.

If Wisconsin receives the grant, it could help nearly eight different projects in the paper industry. Winners will be announced over the summer.

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