“Government doesn’t create jobs; we create an environment that allows businesses to be successful.”
By Brandi Makuski
A Belgium-based company plans to add about 30 new jobs to the local workforce after its doors open in June.
VPK Packaging, which first began production in 1936 Belgium, plans to open its first U.S. based production facility in Stevens Point. The company is currently shipping custom machinery from Germany and into one of three buildings on the former Vetter Manufacturing Co. property on Wood Street.
The decision to open a new facility in North America was a matter of convenience for some of its global customers, according to Andreas Schwab, project manager for the new location of VPK.
“When we decided to open up in North America, we wondered where we should go,” Schwab said. “You look at where your customers are located, and that reduces the space quite a bit.”
Schwab said cost of living, business environment and central location in the state were key factors in choosing Stevens Point.
Michael Ostrwoski, director of community development for the city, said the city had been assisting Schwab with securing a location for several months.
“They were looking for a location, and I got in contact with a local realtor, trying to find them a good location,” Ostrowski said.
VPK received no tax incentives for moving to the area, Ostrowski said, adding the company would be located in an already-industrial area and would not need any permits from the city. He says being chosen for VPK’s first American plant means the city has what it takes to compete for business.
“Government doesn’t create jobs; we create an environment that allows businesses to be successful,” he said. “What this says about Stevens Point is we’ve got a good strong workforce companies can utilize, we’ve got a good cost of living, we’ve got good transportation networks- whether it’s interstate or rail- and it also shows we’ve got a lot of firms and companies that will use their products in the general immediate area.”
VPK manufacturers Corex cardboard cores used in the paper, film and packaging industry, similar to the cardboard tubes used in rolls of paper towel.
Schwab said the company is known for “working locally”, and will hire all of its workforce from the immediate area. But don’t expect those jobs to be available for long- Schwab said even though the company hasn’t advertised for employment, calls from perspective employees have already started coming in.
“The industry is so small, the jobs are spreading by word of mouth,” he said. “I got calls today from people in Waupaca looking for work.”
VPK plans to begin production sometime in June. The company already has 37 plants in 12 countries with about 3,700 full-time employees.