Georgia-Pacific to shut down the 121-year-old Day Street paper mill in Green Bay

GREEN BAY - Georgia-Pacific will shut down its 121-year-old Day Street Mill in phases over the next 18 months.

The company on Wednesday evening announced it would phase out production at the mill beginning in mid-May, when the company plans to shut down tissue production. Additional closures will occur in September and napkin production will end in fall 2023.

About 190 employees will lose their jobs, but the company said those employees will be able to apply for other jobs in the company. That includes more than 100 new jobs that will be created with a $500 million expansion of the Broadway Mill in Green Bay. That expansion is for production of premium paper towels.

Georgia-Pacific cited less-cost-competitive machinery at Day Street, changing customer demand, toilet paper production upgrades and investments at other company manufacturing plants as reasons for the decision to close the mill.

The company notified employees Wednesday. Mike Kawleski, Georgia-Pacific spokesperson, called the mill a "legacy operation."

"There have been generations of families who worked at the mill," Kawleski said. "This is a milestone type of an event for those employees. And also for Green Bay."

Georgia-Pacific to shut down the 121-year-old Day Street paper mill in Green Bay

Kawleski said the company hopes the new jobs being created by the Broadway Mill expansion and other available jobs will enable Georgia-Pacific to continue to employ the mill's workforce.

"We really hope that we can transition most of those employees to other facilities," he said. "They’re a talented workforce. They know what they’re doing. We don’t want to lose them."

The former Northern Tissue Paper Mill began operation on March 29, 1901.

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It was started by seven Wisconsin men who pooled $70,000 to build the plant. In its first year, it employed 25 people and shipped 800 tons of toilet paper. The tissue took its name from the company, Quilted Northern, a brand which continues to be sold today.

By 1920, the company was the largest producer of toilet paper in the world. The mill helped Green Bay earn the title “Toilet Paper Capital of the World.”

Georgia-Pacific bought the Day Street Mill as part of its acquisition of Fort James Corp. in 2000. Koch Industries bought Georgia-Pacific in 2005.

The Day Street mill produced 70,000 tons of paper, as of 2016. Many of its original buildings, such as the gatehouse and main office, remain in use.

Contact Jeff Bollier at (920) 431-8387 or jbollier@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffBollier.