One of the world’s largest paper producers, International Paper Co., plans to convert a shuttered Chester County printing plant where Parade magazine formerly rolled off the presses into a factory that produces corrugated packaging.
International Paper, which is based in Memphis and employs 38,000 people worldwide, said it will start construction of the plant in West Sadsbury Township in early 2022 and expects to begin operations in the first quarter of 2023. The plant will employ about 150 people.
International Paper acquired the 42-acre property at 4581 Lower Valley Rd. near Atglen borough in March for $11.6 million, according to Chester County land records. The property contains a 415,700-square-foot building most recently owned by Quad/Graphics, a commercial printing company that closed the facility in 2016 after 45 years of operation.
“I’m just pleased to have 150 new jobs come in that helps people get back to work,” said State Rep. Tim Hennessey, a Republican whose district in Montgomery and Chester Counties includes the plant site. “This helps us to climb out of the rut that we’re in from the pandemic.”
Hennessey said the West Sadsbury plant will be the first corrugated packaging plant International Paper has built in the United States in more than 30 years. The company did not provide an estimate for the cost to convert the plant. It operates 28 paper mills worldwide and 220 facilities for converting pulp and paper into commercial and industrial products.
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“We are excited to expand our U.S. footprint and continue serving our customers with the highest level of safety, quality, operational excellence and customer service,” Peter Heist, International Paper’s area vice president, said in a letter cited by Hennessey’s office.
“The facility will allow International Paper to expand its industrial packaging footprint in southeast Pennsylvania and the northeast United States.”
A spokeswoman for International Paper said in an email that the plant “will make packaging products that protect and promote goods, enable worldwide commerce and keep consumers safe. We produce packaging for several segments including E-commerce, protein, fruit and vegetable, distribution, processed food and beverage, and durable/non-durable goods.”
The company’s announcement coincided with an advisory from Gov. Tom Wolf that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation had awarded International Paper a $371,000 grant to construct about 500 feet of new railroad track to the plant and rehabilitate 1,200 feet of track with new ties and ballast. The property is located adjacent to the Amtrak lines connecting Philadelphia and Harrisburg, on which Norfolk Southern Railway has rights to carry freight traffic in that part of Chester County.
Soil and ground water at the site were contaminated by the release of solvent, primarily xylene and toluene, over several decades, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cleanup was completed in 2008 under the EPA’s supervision.
The plant was opened in 1971 by Diversified Printing Corp., a subsidiary of Parade Publications, according to a 2016 history published online by Parkesburg Today. The site also was known as Quebecor Printing.
Quad/Graphics printed glossy rotogravure advertisements inserted into newspapers, but that business has contracted with the shift of information from print to online. The decision in 2016 to shut the Atglen plant came several months after Quad/Graphics announced plans to shutter its facility in East Greenville, Montgomery County, which put 400 people out of work.
The Atglen printing facility employed 150 people, the same number that International Paper said it will hire.