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Cooper to visit Canton

Gov. Roy Cooper, seen here in Waynesville in 2021, is no stranger to Haywood County. Gov. Roy Cooper, seen here in Waynesville in 2021, is no stranger to Haywood County. Cory Vaillancourt photo

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will return to Canton on April 6 to discuss the forthcoming closure of Pactiv Evergreen’s Canton paper mill, resources for impacted workers and how the state will hold the company accountable.

First called Champion and then Blue Ridge Paper and now Evergreen, the mill dates back more than a century and sits at the geographic and cultural center of the small mountain town of Canton. Over that time, it’s remained one of the county’s largest employers.

Cooper’s office has taken an active role in the situation since The Smoky Mountain News first broke the story of the mill’s closing back on March 6.

On March 16, Cooper penned a letter to Pactiv Evergreen’s CEO Mike King, asking the company to reconsider the closing and warning that $12 million in state grants given to the company in 2015 would have to be repaid if Pactiv Evergreen moved forward with its stated plans.

Attorney General Josh Stein has also been in touch with Pactiv Evergreen on the subject of the grants as well as on accountability — in the form of retaining documents and records related to the mill’s operations — after the facility closes.

Earlier today, Cooper’s office released a statement on the closing, calling it “shocking” and “cruel.”

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The statement also includes a list of resources for those who are or will be affected by the closing, including job links, crisis care and more.

Cooper will privately meet with local leaders and mill workers early in the afternoon and then speak at Canton's Pisgah High School. 

It’s not the first time Cooper has visited Canton during troubling times. When deadly flooding devastated parts of Canton and Haywood County back in 2021, Cooper made at least two trips to Papertown to confer with regional and local leaders.

To read Cooper’s statement or access those resources, visit the governor’s website.

Look for full coverage of Cooper’s visit in the next issue of The Smoky Mountain News, online and on newsstands on Wednesday, April 12.

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