Georgia-Pacific plant in Fort Smith to expand

FORT SMITH — Georgia-Pacific is investing $40 million in new technology and equipment to expand its paper plate manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, the Atlanta-based company announced Thursday.

Construction is in progress. The investment at the GP-Dixie Products plant at 4411 Midland Blvd. in Fort Smith is part of more than $100 million of planned investments at Arkansas facilities during 2014 and follows up on more than $30 million in upgrades since 2012, according to a Georgia-Pacific news release.

The new line is expected to start in 2015 and will increase the current capacity for assorted sizes of paper plates, company spokeswoman Julie VanDeWater said. With 350 employees working at the facility, the company anticipates more positions will become available in 2015 once the expansion is complete.

“This latest investment will further modernize the plant and improve its long-term competitiveness in plate manufacturing while meeting the growing demands of our consumers and customers,” Larry Balch, Dixie plant director, stated in a news release.

Gov. Mike Beebe expressed his appreciation in the company’s “continued confidence in the Fort Smith workforce.” The expansion showcases Arkansas’ “role in American manufacturing,” he stated in the release.

“We appreciate Georgia-Pacific’s ongoing commitment to our community and the stability that comes with their manufacturing operation here,” Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders stated.

In Arkansas, 10 G-P facilities employ more than 2,400 people with total annual compensation and benefits of about $179 million, the company states.

“Georgia-Pacific has been an outstanding corporate citizen in Fort Smith since the facility was built in 1948. This expansion illustrates their commitment to Fort Smith for many years to come,” Tim Allen, CEO and president of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, stated in the release.

Georgia-Pacific and its subsidiaries are among the world’s largest manufacturers and marketers of paper and building products and related chemicals. Familiar consumer brands include Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, enMotion, Sparkle, Mardi Gras and Vanity Fair, as well as Dixie.