By MARCIA LANE
PALATKA – In Putnam County Project Purple is a secret no more.
Project Purple is the code name Putnam County and Chamber of Commerce officials and leaders have been using as they negotiated with Georgia-Pacific to bring in a $400 million expansion to the Palatka plant.
GP President and CEO Christian Fischer made the announcement at the River Center in Palatka Friday morning, June 23.
The company will be building a new paper machine that uses through-air-dried (TAD) technology as well as adding associated converting equipment and infrastructure.
GP public relations official Terry Hathaway called it a “very special day here in Palatka”, and Fischer noted the selection of Palatka came down to people — both the people at the Palatka mill and the people in Putnam County.
Officials also noted this is the 70th year the mill has been in Palatka. It originally was Hudson Pulp and Paper Company and was instrumental in a growth spurt for the county.
The new facility will mean about 80 jobs will be created to operate the new paper making complex, which will be three stories high and take up to about half a city block. To build the facility an average of 160 workers will be on site daily with a potential peak of 700 contract workers.
Engineering is underway and site preparation is scheduled to start in the next two week. Startup is planned for late 2019.