Liberty Paper Co. of Becker, identified on Friday by Brainerd city officials as the firm that’s interested in purchasing Wausau Paper Co. in Brainerd, will make a presentation at a city council meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Mayor James Wallin, who on Friday afternoon was traveling back from Becker where he and other city officials met with Liberty Paper officials, said that firm was the company the city has been dealing with regarding a potential purchase of the northeast Brainerd paper plant.
He said the Becker company takes cardboard box type materials and breaks them down, getting rid of the sand and plastic straps, and makes them into different weights of craft paper or brown paper similar to grocery bags. Wallin said that it would require an investment into the Wausau plant, but that would be the type of process Liberty would be considering for the Brainerd site.
Wallin said the Becker plant is capable of producing 30 tons of paper in an hour.
With Wallin on Friday at the Becker plant were City Administrator Theresa Goble; Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Sheila Haverkamp; Todd Wicklund, Brainerd Public Utilities finance director; and Bonnie Cumberland, Brainerd City Council president.
“I have never met a company that to me was so honest, so forthright. ... They’re beautiful people, the kind of people that would be an excellent addition to the city of Brainerd,” Wallin said.
Wallin said Liberty Paper Co. is owned by Liberty Diversified International. Liberty Diversified International’s CEO and president, Mike Fiterman could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Wausau Paper closed its production doors in April, citing an exit from the print business and economic weakness as key factors in the decision.
Since then a task force made up of representatives from the city and business committee was formed to help pull in potential buyers.
The city placed a bid on the hydroelectric dam at the Brainerd paper mill in August, which is being sold separate from the building facility itself.
The bid was looked favorably upon by Wausau officials, who drafted a letter of intent with stipulations on officially accepting the bid.
The letter of intent allows the city 90 days to do their due diligence with an 10 percent escrow amount paid to Wausau. If, after the 90 days, the city decides not to move forward with the purchase, the escrow amount is refunded.
In that period, there will be inspections done by Brainerd Public Utilities consultants and review of any reports that will be made available to BPU.