Applicant numbers for American Eagle Paper Mill employment reaching quadruple digits

Positive news hit the streets of Tyrone and Northern Blair County earlier this month when Team Ten LLC announced that the group of 12 investors purchased the MeadWestvaco site and mill.
Along with the announcement, Team Ten President John Ferner noted that approximately 170 positions needed to be filled to get the mill up and running again, producing paper products.
Yesterday, Colleen Nevel, director of CareerLink in Altoona, the state agency handling the application process for the new company, monikered American Eagle Paper Company, said the number of applicants for positions is approaching 1,000.
“There definitely are quite a few people interested and there’s been a continuous stream of applicants,” said Nevel, noting that applicants have both come into the office physically seeking employment, as well as reaching CareerLink’s website for information. “And we expect more.”
Nevel also said a good number of applicants were also looking for on-the-job training opportunities at the mill.
“I think that’s a good thing,” said Ferner about the number of applicants interested in employment at the 140-year-old mill, “but if you look at it in another way, it shows how bad the employment levels are in the area.”
Ferner said the applications would be screened at CareerLink and those eligible for employment would then be passed on to Team Ten for review. He said he didn’t know when people could begin expecting calls for interviews.
“Right now, we can’t do anything until the deal is closed,” said Ferner, “and that won’t happen until at least July 18, when the closing is scheduled.”
Ferner said the group is searching for people experienced in maintenance, power and boiler plant operation and paper making.
“We want to try and hire as many local employees that we can,” he said after the press conference last Tuesday announcing the purchase. “We want people experienced in paper making and we know there are a good deal of those types of people in this area.”
Ferner said the average salary for skilled employees will be around $14 per hour, a rate which Ferner said is “very comparable” to the rates that were being paid when the plant closed in October 2001.
Although Team Ten LLC needs to fill at least 150 positions to get the American Eagle Paper Mill up and running again, he said that in the future, there may need to be more hires.
The American Eagle Paper Mill will a manufacturer of uncoated fine papers and is expected to be open by late summer.
Initial orders are already in place and Team Ten LLC will conduct operations at the Tyrone mill location to meet the demand for uncoated paper products in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. The company’s initial product line will include American Eagle envelopes, Silver Spring envelopes, High D reply stock, Virgin envelopes and the American Eagle offset.
These products will serve magazine and book publishers, commercial printers, envelope converters and business from markets.
The Tyrone mill opened in 1880 and was purchased by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company in 1889. The mill nearly closed in 1970, causing the company to place a full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal on behalf of Tyrone, “A Town for Hire.”
The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company moved the pulp and flakeboard operations to Wickliffe, Ky. and the workforce at the Tyrone plant was cut from a high of near 1,000 to 300.
Before closing in October 2001, Westvaco’s Tyrone plant produced 100,000 tons a year of coated and uncoated paper. Production from the Tyrone plant was moved to the paper mills in Luke, Md. and Wickliffe, Ky.
Team Ten LLC has registered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as American Eagle Paper Mill.
The multi-million dollar project includes proposed financing of approximately $2 million in loans from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority and Enterprise Zone Program for land and building acquisition; nearly $1.3 million from the SBA 504 Program with bank financing by Kishacoquilas Valley National Bank in Reedsville and $1 million in working capital from the Opportunity Grant Program and Pennsylvania Small Business First.
The project also received a major commitment from Gov. Ed Rendell in the form of a $3 million grant from the commonwealth’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program. Funding will also be provided by private investor equity insertions. In addition, job training funds and job tax credits will be made available to start-up the company by the commonwealth and Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission.
The sale of the mill from MeadWestvaco to Team Ten LLC was at a cost of $3 million and the total investment by Team Ten investors is nearly $5 million.