Paper manufacturer Aspen Products bringing 200 jobs to Macon

pramati@macon.comNovember 22, 2013 

Aspen Products Inc., a paper products manufacturer, will open a plant in Macon, creating more than 200 jobs.

The company, located in Kansas City, Mo., and Richmond, Va., has signed a long-term lease and plans to invest about $13 million in the project.

The 200,000-square-foot Aspen Products facility, to be located in Airport Industrial Park, will manufacture paper plates, cups, bowls and lunch bags, according to a news release.

Production will start in early 2014, and the hiring process has already begun. People interested in vacant positions should contact the Department of Labor.

The new facility will be located in a former Wal-Mart distribution center on Avondale Mill Road.

Bibb County commissioners approved a big outlay for a new railway switch Friday that will help the private company relocate to the county.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to let the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority spend $240,000 for the switch. Commissioner Lonzy Edwards was absent.

Industrial Authority Chairman Cliffard Whitby asked the commission to approve the funds, which will be used to buy a new switch along one of Norfolk-Southern’s railway lines. Norfolk-Southern also will contribute money in the form of paying $50 for every car that passes along that switch for the next three years. That’s estimated to be about 500 cars a year, which would generate about $25,000 per year.

Whitby said the move is to help close a deal previously known as Project Ski.

“It’s a very stellar company,” he said. “We’re very happy for them to be located here, using an existing building in Bibb County. ... We’re very fortunate. We were very impressed with the leadership of the company and how committed they seem to be to our community.”

Commission Chairman Sam Hart said after the meeting that news of 200 jobs is an early Christmas present to the community.

“I think this is going to be a great thing for our community,” he said. “Really, it’s the responsibility of government to grow the community, and I think 200 jobs is doing that.”

According to the release, the company is excited to open its plant here.

“I believe Macon to be a perfect fit for Aspen Products,” said Shannon Walls, plant manager of Aspen’s East Coast Division. “Everyone from our team that has been a part of this project has shared the same sentiment. We have been welcomed with open arms and made to feel like this new town was full of old friends. We very much look forward to getting production up and going and becoming part of the local community.”

Hart said he thinks companies are looking at the consolidation of Macon and Bibb County as a sign that the community is progressive.

“I think they see our cooperation and how we’re moving forward,” he said. “They’re getting the impression that we’re a good community to relocate to, with a good work force.”

Staff writer Linda S. Morris contributed to this report.

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