One of the area’s most iconic plants will install a modern continuous pulp digester and other wood chip processing equipment.
The new design is expected to contribute to significantly lowering the mill’s costs, increase its pulp capacity and provide flexibility that will allow it to produce a range of products.
At least three Bradley County companies — CMC Inc., Don’s Fence and Mascom Communications — will benefit from the new construction as they have already been awarded contracts to add their skills and products to the new site.
“There will be one continuous cooking vessel that’s going to be 220 feet tall,” said Rob Martin, Resolute Calhoun operations general manager. “They call this project a very small footprint, but it’s a very vertical footprint.”
He said it would make Calhoun more flexible in the future to manufacture a wide range of projects.
“The machine that traditionally made newsprint will now make commercial printing-type grades,” Martin said. “This facility makes over 100 different grades of paper.”
Martin said the upgrade would also put another 55 individuals to work in the community.
Richard Garneau, Resolute president and chief executive officer, attended the ceremony after traveling from the company’s headquarters in Montreal.
“This is the largest single investment this year,” Garneau said. “We are very excited by the possibilities this project presents.”
He said it will be “the plant of the future.”
Garneau said the total economic impact to the region is expected to be $350 million.
“I think we are very fortunate to have this ‘Open for business’ climate in Tennessee,” he said. “We are very, very encouraged by all the support we have from this state.”
He said Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development
Bill Hagerty “listened intently and provided us access.”
Hagerty said when he saw the scale of the project, he wanted to know if there would be lights on the facility.
When Garneau acknowledged there were, Hagarty said “Calhoun will now be recognizable from space by satellite. It needs a big Tennessee star on it.”
He described the project as “a wonderful addition to our state.”
“What Resolute has done with this asset is to acknowledge the competitive change in the world that is taking place,” Hagarty said. “They are transforming this plant for the next 60 years to make sure the products from here will be the most competitive and cost effective and most world-class products available.”
Garneau said the investment will make Calhoun “a leader in today’s competitive paper market, and poised to capitalize on future opportunities.”
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and District 23 state Rep. John Forgerty were also in attendance for the ceremony.