Potential sale of Brainerd paper mill falls through

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Brainerd officials are reeling after a company interested in buying the idle Wausau Paper mill dropped interest in buying the plant over environmental concerns, the Brainerd Dispatch reports.

Mike Fiterman, the chairman and CEO of Liberty Diversified International, informed the city Tuesday that "the challenges of making the mill productive and profitable in a very competitive industry together with the environmental risks were too great to allow us to move forward."

The Becker-based LDI expressed interest in buying the plant last week.

Wisconsin-owned Wausau Paper Co. announced in February that it was closing the mill, putting 130 people out of work. The company said a decline in the print business and a weak economic figured in the decision.

The plant ceased operations in April.

According to the Dispatch, Brainerd Mayor James Wallin said it would be an understatement to describe LDI's decision as disappointing, and City Council member Gary Scheeler said he was shocked by the decision.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. issued a statement after the news, saying it "stands ready to assist LDI if there is any change in the feasibility of the Brainerd location for LDI’s operations."

News of the potential sale falling through comes less than a week after Gov. Mark Dayton pledged support for the displaced workers from another northern Minnesota paper mill.

Northland's Newscenter says Dayton met with community leaders in International Falls last week following the recent layoffs of 300 employees from the Boise Cascade Paper Mill.

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