Business sweethearts will have to wait a little longer as the courtship between Potlatch and Missota Paper Co. is extended.
Potlatch and Missota Paper expected to have the closing today completing the sale transaction of the paper mill in northeast Brainerd. But that has been postponed about a week.
Mike Sullivan, Potlatch director of corporate communications based in Spokane, Wash., said the delay is just a matter of paperwork and is not an impediment to the pending sale. A tentative date for the closing has been set for Feb. 21.
Jim Withers, Missota Paper executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the closing could still happen by the end of next week, but may be pushed back a few more days. He said the delay is purely for legal documentation. Additional survey work also is expected, Withers said.
Withers said Missota Paper has completed a number of employee interviews and contacted some people with job offers.
The interview process is continuing and will continue throughout the year as more machinery comes online after the initial startup.
While Missota Paper is waiting to take possession, Withers said they have a number of orders from customers for the startup and letters of intent for papermaking later in the year.
Withers said Missota Paper is in as good a shape as they wanted to be and perhaps better than anticipated. Potlatch is allowing Missota Paper to use the mill for office space before the sale is complete.
Missota Paper is arranging phone service and the myriad details associated with the startup.
"We are anxious to get to the point where we can start to do physical things," Withers said.
Marv Finendale, Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union representative based in Superior, Wis., said talks are progressing with Missota Paper and a contract is expected to be in place by early March.
Finendale said the contract language, with specifics on the benefit package, is close to being "a done deal."
"So it looks good for business," Finendale said.
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