Today, Governor Roy Cooper traveled to western North Carolina and met with local leaders and community members in Canton who are affected by the closure of the town’s century old paper mill by Illinois packaging conglomerate Pactiv Evergreen.
“This closure will have a devastating impact on the thousands of people who have depended on wages and business from the Canton Paper Mill,” Governor Cooper said. “My administration is fully committed to supporting these communities with state and federal resources to help people recover and we will work to hold this company accountable.”
“On Thursday we are appreciative and thankful to welcome Governor Cooper back to Canton. From zero hour, when it was announced that Evergreen Packaging was closing, the Governor did not just make promises but has kept his word to provide financial support, claw back economic incentives, and support every worker and family affected by this crisis,” Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers said. “We look forward to providing the Governor and his staff with the challenges existing today, while also discussing how we can move forward to build the "Hometown of Tomorrow.’"
On March 6, Pactiv Evergreen announced plans to shut down the paper mill in Canton, North Carolina, and the first layoffs will occur on June 9, 2023. The Canton mill has been in operation for more than a century and has been the center of that town and region.
During his visit, Governor Cooper stopped at Pisgah High School and met with local elected officials and leaders about the closure. The Governor also met with mill workers at the United Steelworkers Smoky Mountain Local 507 Union Hall and rail workers and suppliers at the Blue Ridge Southern Railroad Depot.
On March 16, 2023, Governor Cooper sent a letter to the CEO of Pactiv Evergreen about the return of state economic incentives given to the Canton mill. The Governor’s letter urges the Pactiv Evergreen CEO to explore all options to keep the mill open or find a buyer. It also said that closing the plant would be a "clear breach" of a $12 million economic development agreement with the Department of Commerce. The breach would require full repayment of that money that was paid to Pactiv Evergreen from 2015-2021.
Earlier this week, the Governor launched a page on his website to share information and resources for people in western North Carolina who are looking for jobs, news about the closure, mental health resources and more.
Governor Cooper's proposed budget includes at least $5 million in funding to support the people of Canton and western North Carolina following Evergreen Packaging’s announcement of its intention to close the century-old paper mill that is a major employer in the community.