LONGVIEW — WestRock plans to build a new corrugated boxing plant — double the size of its current facility — and employ more people in Longview by the end of 2023.
The Fortune 500 company announced its plans to expand in Cowlitz County on Tuesday. The company says “there is a growing demand from WestRock’s regional customers in the Pacific Northwest.”
The international company makes packaging materials like containerboard and pulp.
WestRock spokeswoman Courtney James said both the current and new plant will be used by the company once construction is completed.
The new plant will be housed near WestRock’s current paper mill on Fibre Way in Longview to “quickly integrate the containerboard made there with this new plant,” James said.
“Special packaging machinery” will remain in the current, roughly 200,000-square-foot plant built in the early 1930s, James added.
The new plant will be about 400,000-square-feet and employ more people than the current plant does today, she said. Today’s plant employs more than 100 people. Once built, staff can move to the new facility or remain at the current plant.
WestRock gained ownership of the Longview plant in November 2019 as part of its $4.8 billion merger with KapStone. The merger made Atlanta-based WestRock one of the nation’s largest producers of paper and packaging products and expanded the company’s market to the West Coast and Asia.
Cowlitz County Economic Development Council President Ted Sprague said the organization has been working with WestRock for months to facilitate the expansion by discussing local incentives.
He said Washington state companies can receive a tax credit if they expand their workforce by 15% and companies that provide a certain threshold of a living wage can receive grants to train employees at Lower Columbia College.
He said the expansion is a win today and for the future of the area.
“It speaks to their long-term plan to be in Longview,” Sprague said. “We’re very excited about it.”