By: Maya Holmes
CLOQUET - Hundreds of jobs are on their way to Cloquet.
The news coming as the paper mill invests in producing a new type of pulp at the mill.
This conversion will help financially stabilize the mill and even the Cloquet Community.
Officials say customers and business for the pulp they currently produce is shrinking, and this higher quality pulp is more in demand.
"I would like to welcome everybody here for this historical event," Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren said.
State and city heavy hitters broke ground for a new project after Sappi Fine Paper North America announced a $170 million investment into Cloquet's pulp mill.
"They chose northern Minnesota because we have an incredible workforce,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota said. We also have a lot of innovators and thinkers."
"This will ensure the strong future for the company,” said Ahlgren. Your employees and their families and our entire community."
The project converts Cloquet's hardwood craft pulp into a different kind of pulp called chemical cellulose.
"Instead of making pulp for paper, we'll be making pulp that will go into making textiles for clothing and apparel around the world," Sappi Fine Paper North America President and Ceo Mark Gardner said.
"For a change we are going to be making things in America that are going to go to China, instead of the opposite way," said Klobuchar.
New parts will be brought into the mill and older parts will be modified.
It’s a construction process that will create at least 400 jobs.
"These are excellent construction jobs,” said Ahlgren. These are jobs that every community would love to have on a full time basis.”
Sappi officials say the new conversion has the potential to produce other higher end products for natural filtration and the food industry.
"A lot of thickeners and binders in the food that we all eat everyday will have a chemical cellulose component in it," said Gardner.
Officials say it's the largest capital project in Minnesota’s forest products industry in the last 20 years.
The Cloquet mill will continue to produce coated paper.