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Over the first five months of 2018, Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) has been in the news. Earlier this year, JIA announced its accolade of being ranked North America’s #1 airport for customer service according to customer surveys conducted by Airports Council International for the second year in a row; followed by news of two new nonstop flights on Allegiant to previously unrepresented cities of Louisville, Ky. and Norfolk, Va.; and the most recent announcement of six new destinations to be served by Frontier Airlines according to Jacksonville Business Journal five of which are new destinations for JIA.

Ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) are not the only airlines expanding at JIA. Southwest recently invested in a new route to Fort Lauderdale and United service to Denver began in April. The airlift schedule for June represents a substantial increase in service over 2017 with a 17.3 percent YOY growth in flights and 15.8 percent in seats. This is good news for the JAX region, its residents and businesses.

Georgia Pacific, a manufacturer of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals, announced that its Palatka mill has been selected for the company’s $400 million expansion in its GP Consumer (retail) tissue and towel business.

Investments to the Palatka mill include building a new paper machine using through-air-dried (TAD) technology, as well as adding associated converting equipment and infrastructure. Engineering and related work is beginning immediately, and startup of the upgraded operation is scheduled for 2019.

Approximately 80 jobs will be created to operate the new papermaking complex, in addition to the mill’s 850 current employees. An average of 160 construction and contract-related workers are expected to be onsite at the mill everyday during the project, with a potential peak of 700 contract workers per day at the height of construction.

“This upgrade to our operations in Florida underscores our long history of investment in the state by Georgia-Pacific and Koch companies,” said Christian Fischer, Georgia-Pacific president and chief executive officer. “We appreciate the ongoing support of the local community, Putnam County and state officials in our efforts to continue making our Palatka mill more competitive for the long-term.

“The Palatka mill has been a major economic contributor in Putnam County for 70 years,” said Larry Harvey, chairman, Putnam County Board of County Commissioners. “It is gratifying that Georgia-Pacific continues to see our community as a solid location for significant investment. With this new manufacturing technology coming to the Palatka mill, we look forward to many more decades of opportunity together.”

“This significant investment demonstrates our commitment to GP’s consumer business, our hard-working teams and our current and potential customers,” said Kathy Walters, Group President – Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products Group. “It also allows us to further leverage the many advantages we have, including our breadth of offerings, excellence in manufacturing operations and research and development to create products that consumers value.”