Oneida County Board backs loan to help Expera expand in Rhinelander

September 21, 2016


Star Journal

A resolution authorizing Oneida County to borrow $15 million from the state of Wisconsin Trust Funds for the purpose of financing a “pass-through loan” to the Northeast Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (NEWEDC) for the purchase and renovation of the vacant Printpack building in Rhinelander and purchase of the related capital equipment was approved Tuesday by the full County Board.

County supervisors met in closed session for nearly an hour and a half before returning to open session and voting 17-1 with three supervisors absent in favor of the loan, which is subject to final approval by the state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) before the money could be obtained on behalf of Expera Specialty Solutions to expand its operations in Rhinelander.

The resolution notes the loan is payable within 6.5 years from March 15 preceding the date the loan is made. The resolution also calls for the loan to be repaid in annual installments at an annual interest rate of 3.75 percent from the date of making the loan to the next March 15 and annually thereafter as provided by law.

The NEWEDC, a sister corporation of the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation, has been negotiating to enter into a lease/purchase contract with Rhinelander Coated Products, a business unit of Expera Specialty Solutions, which this summer had been granted a conditional use permit from the city of Rhinelander to increase the roof and stack height of the vacant Printpack building at 114 W. Kemp St., where Expera would have to obtain the property to use the permit.

Expera’s Rhinelander mill manager, Jeff Verdoorn, told the city’s Planning Commission this summer that the company is out of space at its existing facility in the city to be able to do “more of the same” with the process equipment it currently has in place.

Following the County Board’s backing of the loan, Verdoorn declined to go into detail when asked about Expera’s future plans in Rhinelander, noting the loan still requires approval from the state BCPL.

“It will happen soon, but BCPL has to approve the loan first,” he said.

According to the project description included with Expera’s permit application with the city, the company sought to obtain the vacant Printpack building to have a process line that would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and employ approximately 20 full-time personnel with the existing parking areas, egress and shipping docks being utilized.

“This is an expansion of the mill, so we’ll be stronger because of it,” Verdoorn said.

OCEDC executive director Roger Luce said the purchase and renovation of the vacant Printpack building will make it possible for Rhinelander Coated Products to double production for coating.

“When you look at the industry growth in the aerospace fiber composite area, it’s 10 percent per year growth,” Luce said. “This really does help this mill long term.”

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