A trip to Green Bay Packaging at Morrilton has given local economic developers a taste of what Clark County can expect when the Sun Bio mill opens in Gum Springs.

A trip to Green Bay Packaging at Morrilton has given local economic developers a taste of what Clark County can expect when the Sun Bio mill opens in Gum Springs.
According to Stephen Bell, president/CEO of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance and Area Chamber of Commerce, a group from Clark County recently toured the linerboard facility in Morrilton.
“I asked Mr. (Guangdong) Ying was there a linerboard facility in the United States that would be similar to what they had,” said Bell.
Ying told Bell there would not be a similar facility as Sun Bio would use more advanced technology. He later told Bell about a Green Bay Packaging facility near the U.S./Canada border. The decision was made to send a delegation from Clark County to the Morrilton location of Green Bay Packaging.
“They’ve actually updated their equipment there at Green Bay Packaging in Morrilton,” Bell said.
After showing photos of the plant, Bell then called on Dr. Lewis Shepherd and Clark County Judge Troy Tucker to share their reflections of the trip.
“No odor whatsoever,” said Shepherd.
“There was a faint scent in the boiler room where they boiled the pine chips. It had a faint Pine Sol smell. It is a very pleasant, clean-smelling paper mill.”
According to Bell, most of the facility is outside. The plant has approximately 350 employees and produces 1400 tons of linerboard daily. The local facility will produce 4500 tons per day. The operation of the Green Bay Packaging plant coincides with everything Sun Bio representatives have said about the future mill in Gum Springs.
“I was impressed,” said Tucker.
According to Bell, Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, recently traveled to China to visit with the Sun Bio delegation.
“One thing they (Sun Bio delegation) have expressed concern about is the Trump tariffs. They have asked AEDC and the Governor to provide them with a letter that will provide some kind of assurance that if they begin construction of the project, they will not be hit by the tariffs,” said Bell, who added that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has agreed to Sun Bio’s request.
According to Preston, Sun Bio is expected to be grandfathered in, and would not be subject to the tariffs.
Bell reported that Gov. Hutchinson was expected to have dinner with President Donald Trump on Monday night, and was expected to present the concerns of Sun Bio reps to Trump.
In addition, Sun Bio has asked the AEDC to help them secure work permits/visas for the workers they will send from China.
According to Bell, Sun Bio will purchase its electricity for construction from Entergy. The electricity generated at the plant will be used by the plant.
Bell reported that Sun Bio has completed interviews for a consultant for the air permit, engineers and construction.
“Right now, Sun Paper is waiting for a letter giving them the assurance they will be exempt from the tariffs,” said Bell, who added he is not sure how long it will for Sun Bio to receive the letter.
Bell reported that work is expected to begin soon on the rail spur.
“It is a federal EDA grant that has to be completed by August. The Southwest Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority did bid out that project and got three bids,” said Bell.
The lowest bid was submitted by a company based in Fort Smith for approximately $900,000.
“We are waiting to close on the Hitco property. The contract has been signed with Hitco and the information has been turned in to the title company. We are waiting on the title company to complete the title search. There is a form they need to sign for EDA certifying the site as having a clean title. The EDA will then let them proceed with construction of the rail spur,” Bell said.