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Kimberly-Clark open to negotiating state incentives to save Cold Spring factory jobs

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FOX CROSSING, Wis. — Kimberly-Clark Corp. says it’s open to negotiating state incentives to save at least one of two facilities from closure in Wisconsin.

Kimberly-Clark’s position on the Cold Spring facility follows a new labor agreement ratified Monday night by United Steelworkers Local 2-482.

The new agreement provides Kimberly-Clark with concessions aimed at keeping Cold Spring in operation, said local union president, Dave Breckheimer. The company announced earlier this year that it planned to close the Cold Spring and Neenah Nonwovens factories, eliminating 610 jobs.

Kimberly-Clark said that with the new union agreement it’s open to negotiating state incentives.

“With the ratified agreement, the company will advise the State of Wisconsin that it is now in a position to commit to using the incentives if the proposed legislation is passed and an agreement with WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.) is reached. These incentives, together with the new agreement, allow the company to better meet some of the challenging objectives of our global restructuring program,” the company said in a statement.

A tax break package designed to stop the giant papermaker from closing the facilities was passed by the Assembly earlier this year, but not by the Senate. The Assembly bill was modeled after incentives given for the Foxconn project in southeastern Wisconsin. The tax credit on jobs for Kimberly-Clark was expected to cost between $100 million and $115 million.

Gov. Scott Walker released a statement following the union’s ratified agreement.

“The agreement reached between Kimberly-Clark and the United Steelworkers is outstanding news, and we look forward to working with Senate leaders and the company to keep hundreds of good-paying, family-supporting jobs in the Fox Valley,” Walker’s statement read.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he planned to speak next week with his caucus members, Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling and Walker to determine how to proceed.

Shilling said she didn’t think Republicans were any closer to reaching a deal now than earlier this year before the session ended when they didn’t have the votes to pass the bill.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan issued this statement:

“WEDC is pleased Kimberly-Clark has reached an agreement with the United Steelworkers that would ensure the company’s Cold Spring facility remains in operation. WEDC has had productive conversations with the company since February regarding how the legislation to provide Kimberly-Clark with state incentives would work with WEDC’s programs. We look forward to working with the company, Governor Walker and state legislators to find a path forward to secure Kimberly-Clark’s presence in Wisconsin for decades to come.”

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