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IP begins demolition of closed Courtland, Alabama mill

COURTLAND, Alabama (from The Decatur Daily) -- International Paper has started dismantling the 2,200-acre mill site that shuttered in 2014 and cost Lawrence County nearly 1,100 jobs.

Company spokesman Tom Ryan said it could take up to three years to complete the demolition process, adding that selling the property is still a possibility.

"Demo work continues, with a two- to three-year completion period," he said. "We continue to take inquiries from parties showing interest in buying some or all of the site."

He said the property, north of Courtland, is not "officially on the market for sale yet."

"We are working with state and local economic development groups with interested parties they may have," Ryan wrote.

Lawrence County Industrial Development Board Executive Director Tony Stockton said his office has not received inquiries about the site.

Last year, Stockton said the IDB operates on a budget of about $200,000 annually. He said it is hard to offer financial incentives for prospective companies when money is not available. The Tennessee Valley Authority sends an economic development allocation of $150,000 every year, and about $45,000 a year comes from farmland leases, Stockton said.

In January, Courtland Industrial Board Chairman Roger Dyar said companies inquiring about the facility said it was too big for their needs.

North Courtland Mayor Riely Evans Sr. said he is saddened to see the facility demolished. He worked at IP for five years.

"I drove to the credit union last week and saw they are tearing down the plant," said Evans, who said he worked in roll finishing, shipping and warehouse positions. "I know many others who lost their livelihoods when it was shut down. It hurts my heart to see it coming down."

On Sept. 11, 2013, International Paper announced plans to shutter the Courtland mill, which had an annual payroll of $86 million at the time. Mill records showed 318 employees were residents of Lawrence County and 255 were from Morgan County at the time of the mill's closure in 2014.

International Paper's 2015 annual report said the company's costs associated with the closure of the mill totaled $118 million in 2013 and $554 million in 2014. At the close of 2013, the net book value of the Courtland facility was $470 million, according to the report.

The company evaluated the facility for alternative uses, according to the annual report, but found none.

The mill opened in 1970 as Champion Paper. International Paper purchased it in 2000.


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