The Star Tribune reports that Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet announced Wednesday that it is now producing the kind of pulp that is used to make textiles. The state's largest paper mill previously made pulp used for paper.
The newspaper said that Sappi's $170 million conversion, which began in 2011, is complete. Textile mills in Asian are buying he new variety of pulp to make thread. It's known as chemical cellulose or dissolved pulp.
The Pine Journal said the Cloquet mill is Sappi's first in North America to make the conversion.
Demand for the pulp produced in Cloquet is growing between 6 and 8 percent each year, prompting Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the trade group Minnesota Forest Industries, to call the conversion "...the first step into a new generation of products, converting wood fiber into another product."
In September, the Boise Paper mill in International Falls laid off 225 workers. Earlier this month, the Brainerd Dispatch reported that Liberty Paper, based in Becker, Minn., backed out of a plan to purchase the idled Wausau Paper plant in the city. Last spring, 130 lost their jobs when the mill closed.