$1.9M land sale pending for packaging plant

A Midwest paper processing giant is preparing to build a large manufacturing plant in the Horn Rapids area of Richland, bringing with it about 150 family-wage jobs.

Packaging Corporation of America, based in Illinois, is set to close on 42 acres in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park.

The sale of the city-owned 3003 Kingsgate Way property is not complete, but the estimated purchase price is $45,000 an acre, or an estimated $1.9 million, which meets the pricing established in 2013 for the city-owned property.

The Richland City Council approved the sale earlier this fall.

Paperwork filed with the city of Richland said the company plans to build a 400,000-square-foot to 450,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

The company said it expects to open the facility at the start of 2020.

As part of the sale agreement, the city agreed to move an irrigation line and build Battelle Boulevard along the north end of the property. A four percent finder’s fee due to CBRE Inc. of Seattle is also part of the agreement.

PCA, one of the nation’s largest producers of packaging products, owns Boise Paper, which operates the paper mill in Wallula.

PCA recently made a $150 million investment into the Walla Walla County plant, with a future goal of producing only containerboard, or cardboard.

The Port of Pasco signed a lease and dockage agreement with PCA this past summer so the company could begin barging sawdust to the Big Pasco Industrial Park en route to the Wallula plant.

Richland officials expect corrugated cardboard also will be produced in Horn Rapids.

Jobs at the PCA plant in Richland are expected to average $25 an hour.

Benton County’s median hourly wage in 2017 was $23.94 an hour and in Franklin County’s it was $17.83 an hour, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“From an overall economic development standpoint, we want to see this type of growth, especially when they bring these kinds of jobs with a higher pay,” said Kerwin Jensen, community development director for the city of Richland. “That’s what we’re aiming for with the city-owned properties out there.”

Richland also expects construction to eventually begin in Horn Rapids on a 40,000-square-foot National Guard readiness center. The National Guard owns 40 acres of land, but the effort to secure funding for the project stalled and work may not begin until at least 2022.

Jensen said job creation from the PCA project would be far more impactful to the city than the readiness center.

PCA is a publicly-traded company with net sales for 2017 totaling $6.44 billion with $668.6 million in profit. The company is North America’s third largest producer of containerboard products and uncoated freesheet paper. As of the end of 2017, the company employed about 14,600 people nationwide.

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