A Joint Finance Committee hearing at the Capitol could determine the future of hundreds of paper workers in the Fox Valley. A $70 million tax incentive package aims to keep Kimberly Clark’s Cold Spring plant open. “I’m asking that you folks send a message, don’t turn you backs on these jobs.” said Neenah Mayor and former Finance Committee co-chair Dean Kaufert.
The plant makes adult incontinence products and employs more than 400 people. Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Mark Hogan said those jobs can go elsewhere. “There are other states that are willing to provide incentives, and that’s the free market that we live,” Hogan said.
John Deitrich, vice president of global manufacturing for Kimberly-Clark, said a decision on closing the plant hinges on Senate passage of the package. “AB 963 came to us from the state, and it caused us to pause the public announcement we made, about closing the Neenah Cold Spring facility. And with the opportunity to arrive at a new collective bargaining agreement, that with AB 963 will keep Cold Spring open.”
Republicans will need some Democrats’ support for that to happen. “I am not convinced that this is the right thing for the state to do,” GOP state Senator Luther Olsen, a finance committee member, said during Wednesday’s hearing. There are also three Senate Republicans – Senators Stave Nass of Whitewater, Chris Kapenga of Delafield and David Craig of the Town of Vernon – who are on record as opposing the deal, which passed the Assembly earlier this year.