Corner Brook Pulp and Paper this week finally availed of the $110 million loan the provincial government had made available.
The money, the province made clear, isn’t to be used for day-to-day operations, but must be invested in actions that will improve the outlook for the future of the aging plant.
A major, multi-million dollar modernization on the facility was done soon after is was purchased by Kruger Inc. from Bowater in the mid-1980s but there have been massive changes in the newsprint market in the ensuing three decades.
As it stands now, countless mills around the world have closed because of a contraction in the global newsprint market because of a decrease in the size and number of newspapers.
The Corner Brook mill has managed to remain open due to a management that has trimmed costs to the bone, workers who have been willing to accept a series of contract reductions, and critically, it has its own dependable and cheap electricity supply from its subsidiary Deer Lake Power.
The latest loan from the government sounds like a lot of money for ordinary citizens, but it won’t go far if million dollar machinery has to be bought and installed.
The provincial government must be satisfied with the business plan put forward by the parent company Kruger for use of the money.
Residents who depend on the mill or its economic spinoffs should also hope any improvements put the mill in the vanguard of innovation and ensure the machines will keep turning far into the future.
While Corner Brook Pulp and Paper isn’t the main pillar of the west coast economy it once was, it is still a major contributor to the whole province in jobs and wages.