For more than six months MOP President Charles Diamond and Vice President Wayne King have been working in conjunction with local community, civic and business leaders to map out a strategy for revitalizing the Groveton Mill, formerly owned by Wausau Paper Corporation and the Groveton Paper Board company. Their work follows on the heels of studies by the North Country Council, Regional Planning Agency (NCC) and an extensive, far reaching study completed by Preston Gilbert, formerly of the North Country Council and now Director of the Brownfields Center at SUNY University in New York.
The Gilbert Study, commissioned by NCC, envisions the Groveton facility as a model for revitalizing shuttered paper mills across the Northeast and ultimately throughout the US. Through an evolutionary process MOP Environmental Solutions has adopted the conceptual model and will be working closely with the town of Groveton, other local communities and these agencies to make the Groveton Mill a focal point for a multi-tiered strategy to enhance year-round agricultural production in the Northeast; to create a manufacturing center for MOP's Maximum Oil Pickup oil absorbant products and Cellulose insulation; and to bring together other cutting edge green technologies in recycling, bio-fuel production, and wood technologies that harness the resources of the Northern Forest region and the skills and enthusiasm of a dedicated and persistent workforce and community.
We are very enthusiastic about the possibilites that lie ahead, said MOP President Charles Diamond. This would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of hundreds of people, Diamond continued, but we would be remiss if we did not recognize Bob Chapman of Chapman Metal Recycling who's efforts helped secure the buildings from the wrecking ball and Dave Auger of Groveton who's enthusiasm and community spirit kept the process alive during the coldest months of the last few years.
The Groveton Mill is not just a set of buildings, Diamond said. It represents more than 100 years of community life for a region where hard work and family values are a driving force that gives life to the community.
The purchase of the mill provides the perfect fit for MOP by allowing us to expand our manufacturing to meet growing demand and to create synergies in our manufacturing by adding several very similar products, cellulose insultation, where there is a high local demand and a consumer product for the home and garage as well as for local fire departments, raceways and roadways.
In a letter to supporters and key individuals and organizations involved with efforts to save the Mill, Vice President Wayne King said: "It is our intent, working closely with the community, the many folks who have been involved to date and the State of NH to transform the mill into a Green Technology Manufacturing, Research and Education Center (New name not yet chosen). We intend to honor the work of the many folks on whose shoulders we stand and move in the direction outlined by the Preston Gilbert Report, Commissioned by the North Country Council (Link Below) - a far sighted set of recommendations that we believe capable of creating not only a thriving set of enterprises but the beginnings of a critical mass for renewing the North Country economy."
King continued, " You have kept faith with the people of Groveton and the region, who have hoped for the day when new life would come to the Mill. We will keep faith with you by vowing that this new life will be woven into the fabric of the community. We will seek ways to make Groveton a model for communities undergoing similar challenges throughout New England and the country as a whole."
"The current owners of the Mill, Jerry Epstein and Ken Miller deserve our thanks for choosing the future of Groveton over the wrecking ball. It would have been a much simpler process for them to have scrapped the entire Mill but we are grateful that they showed the patience needed to secure the future of the Mill."
Many others have also played important roles from the citizen-based Groveton Phoenix Group, The leadership of Groveton on the Boards of Selectmen and Planning, The North Country Council, The NH Department of Resources and Economic Development; Bill Andreas of BEDCO, the NH Congressional Delegation, led by Senator Shaheen, Councilor Ray Burton, White Mountain Community College President Kathy Eneguess, Atty Peter Feuerbach of Rubin and Rudmin, Andrew Bronson of Tender Corp, and many others.
The HUB Zone designation of the region will also give the new businesses that we grow here a competitive edge in Federal Procurement boosting their competitiveness. We intend to immediately launch a private marketing company focused strictly on Government procurement to take advantage of the HubZone designation.
We also intend to engage the towns people in the process of determining the future of the mill, soliciting their help in designing a riverfront walking and shopping area that pays tribute to the history of Groveton and the Mills; involving them in the development of educational programs in cooperation with the White Mountain Community College and other nearby institutions of higher learning; and soliciting their ideas for entrepreneurial activities that would support the local economy.
We anticipate that as many as 500 jobs will be created at the facility in the next 4-5 years with 100-200 being added in 2012.
"What makes this project most exciting for all of us is the way in which it creates a public/private partnership for growth within the community and the opportunity to create a model for similar communities across the country, Diamond said.