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Parties interested in Frenchtown, Montana plant as Smurfit-Stone exits bankruptcy

July 18, 2010View for printing

When Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. filed for Chapter 11 status more than 17 months ago, it set in motion a dramatic chapter for Missoula and Montana's beleaguered wood products industry.

Pummeled by a failing economy, struggles with the wood supply line and facing an increasingly competitive international market, Smurfit, the American papermaking giant, took drastic measures to protect its core properties.

To stanch fiscal bleeding, the company closed 13 facilities and reduced its work force by 2,900 positions.

Among the casualties: Smurfit's Frenchtown linerboard plant, its 400-some workers - and the hundreds of small suppliers and businesses that relied on mill contracts.

"Now that the company is out of bankruptcy court, they now control their own destiny," said Dick King, executive director of the Missoula Area Economic Development Corp. "Now that they are out they can make decisions about what to do with the property and they have communicated with us that they are seriously interested in finding a buyer."

By BETSY COHEN of the Missoulian

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