The Watertown Daily Times is reporting this week that the latest effort to revive the Newton Falls paper plant has faltered.
“They’re going to try to find a buyer or liquidate it,” said Fine Supervisor Mark C. Hall, a member of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency told the newspaper.
“There are people out there who still think they’re going to find a buyer. I’ve got my fingers crossed that they find a buyer and the mill will operate again. Time will tell.”
According to the Times, there are currently just five employees at the mill, which has struggled for the better part of a decade, part of the regional downturn in the paper industry.
This news comes after the North Country Regional Economic Development Council agreed last year to spend roughly $9.6 million refurbishing an industrial railroad that connects the tiny village of Newton Falls to the rest of St. Lawrence County.
Previously, state officials had committed to spending millions of dollars to help reopen the plant, including aid from Gov. George Pataki in 2002 and a $1.7 million grant from Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007.
According to the NCREDC, the project would help support “155 jobs at Newton Falls Fine Paper” and could also give momentum to a “bio fuel project, natural resource manufacturing.”
Local officials hope the line will also allow granite tailings to be removed from the defunct Benson mines. As recently as May, plans were still underway to spend the grant money on the line, despite the paper company’s struggles.
So what do you think? Is this a good investment of taxpayer money by state officials? This was the largest single grant offered to a project applicant in our region — nearly $10 million. Is this a good strategy to revitalize a struggling part of the Adirondacks, or a risky investment?
Your comments welcome.