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Grant to Help Georgia Pacific Workers

Posted at: 11/30/2012 8:39 AM
Updated at: 11/30/2012 6:18 PM
By: Travis Dill

The money will go to Duluth's Workforce Development Center, and former Georgia Pacific employee Dwight Wickstrom explained his experience there.

“What I've experienced from the whole moment I've been there and still today has just been kindness and really hope. These people are great. They want to work with us. They want us to be encouraged to know that there is another door that's going to open,” Wickstrom said.

141 Georgia Pacific employees lost their jobs when the Duluth plant closed in October. The grant will help those workers find new employment or train for new skills.

United Steelworkers Local 776 Vice President Ron Osborne said the grant will help younger workers.

“They can have an opportunity to go to tech school, to trade school or to get a start in it anyway,” Osborne said.

Mayor Don Ness was alongside the displaced workers on Friday for the announcement. He said this shows the city's commitment to the workers, but the city also hopes to get the plant moving again.

Ness said a local business has made an offer to buy the plant.

“We do see an opportunity right now, hopefully with the cooperation of GP to get that site and that plant into new hands that will restart that operation and put some of these hardworking individuals back to work,” Ness said.

A representative for Georgia Pacific said the company was in talks with a local group, but Georgia Pacific ended the discussion when the group extended an offer that was well below the value of the property.

Georgia Pacific said they are not willing to sell to a competitor, but the company is in sale discussions with other parties.

The grant is only for former Georgia Pacific workers, but the Duluth Workforce Development Center said they do have resources available for anyone that may be out of work in the community.