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      New company purchases Manistique Papers

      Manistique Papers emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and now has a new buyer. Watermill Group of Lexington, Massachusetts is the new owner, and papers were signed at noon Friday in Manistique.

      When Manistique Papers briefly closed last August, it was a blow to a community that had seen its share of hard times.

      With the millâ??s fresh start, executive vice president and general manager, Jon Johnson, says the company is looking to bring on more workers to replace the ones they lost. Manistique Papers had about 150 employees at the time of the bankruptcy filing, but they lost around 25 employees to those who decided to retire or seek employment elsewhere.

      The goal is to hire 10 to 15 people in the next two to four weeks.

      And what will they produce? Well, the papermaking process will stay the same, however, the company has branched out in the past year to make some additional recycled products.

      â??Packaging is one thing that we're going to be expanding upon,â?? Johnson says. â??Weâ??ll expand into different varieties of packaging. We still have to look at more development and see where we're going to end up in the packaging area."

      And who are the target customers? New officials say they'll go to the growing number of big U.S. companies who prefer sustainable products.

      â??This is a very unique paper mill because it's 100 percent recycled, and it's really the only recycled paper mill that makes this particular type of uncoated high-white paper," explains Steve Silver, President and CEO of Manistique Papers.

      mBank, along with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, agreed to pay off Manistique Papers' existing loan and free it from bankruptcy.

      Officials say they're grateful for the community effort to save this landmark that first started producing papers back in 1920.