Page 6 - Upper Peninsula Business Today -- April 2018
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Apprentice Joe Prusi named Apprentice of the Year
Packerland, Microsoft To Team On
Broadband Expansion Business
LAUREN GIBBONS Iron Mountain Daily News
HOWELL, Mich. - The Operating Engineers 324 (OE324) is proud to announce apprentice Joe Prusi was named Apprentice of the Year by the Upper Peninsula Construction Council (UPCC) on Saturday.
"It's an honor- it's a huge honor just to be nominated," Prusi said. "It's good to know that there's people that appreciate the apprenticeship programs and the trades, and we need to continue to build a stronger skilled trades workforce and support the quality training programs, like OE324's, that attract them."
The Upper Peninsula Construction Council, an organization made up of over 250 quality construction contractors located across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, held its 7th Annual Apprentice of the Year event Saturday night. Prusi was one of 16 nomi- nees honored at the dinner and among five to be interviewed for the designation of Apprentice of the Year. Another Operating Engineers 324 apprentice, Chad Billings, was among the top five selected by UPCC. "We are very proud of Joe's hard work and exceptional dedication, and know he is one of many highly-skilled apprentices in Operating Engineers' 324 training pro- gram," said John Osika, Training Director at Operating Engineers 324. "Thank you to the Upper Peninsula Construction Council for supporting stand-out apprentices like Joe and Chad and supporting the skilled trades
in the Upper Peninsula. With the opening of our new training center in Gladstone last year, we look forward to continue working in partnership with UPCC to build the Upper Peninsula's skilled workforce."
In addition to Prusi, OE324 apprentice Corey Chandler was named Apprentice of the Year by the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee Inc. (MASCI) earlier this year. Chandler was also named the 2017 Apprentice of the Year by the Associated General Contractors of Michigan.
"We couldn't be prouder of Joe, Corey and Chad, who have gone above and beyond the requirements of our training program and demonstrated professionalism and leadership both in the classroom and on the job," said John Hartwell, Apprenticeship Coordinator for Operating Engineers 324. "Every year, we train many of the men and women who get top-notch careers in construction and keep our economy running, and the individ- ual accomplishments of Joe and Corey stand out as some of the best."
In 2017, the Operating Engineers 324 expanded access to training with the opening of a new, state-of-the-art facility in Gladstone. In addition to training future operating engineers, the facility-outfitted with a confined space classroom- is being used to update journeyman skills and safety procedures, as well as host career exploration for Upper Peninsula students.
An Iron Mountain company is partnering with Microsoft to get broadband internet access to residents of northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula in the coming years.
Using TV white spaces, wi-fi hardware and other technologies, Microsoft recently announced it would work with Packerland Broadband to expand broadband internet access to about 33,750 additional people by the end of 2019 and about 82,000 people in the region by 2022.
“Partnering with Microsoft allows us to bring new services and push our services fur- ther into the rural landscape in our region and beyond,” Cory Heigl, vice president of Packerland Broadband said in announcing the agreement.
The partnership comes as businesses and politicians look to address broadband inter- net access in rural communities, where options for increased connectivity can be more limited or difficult to access.
It’s part of Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative, which aims to bring broadband to an additional 2 million people across the country by 2022 and provide digital skills training in those communities. In a state- ment, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said the partnership will help bring “the electricity of the 21st centu- ry” to northern residents.
As talks on the latest iteration of the Farm Bill for Congressional approval continue ahead of a September expiry date, bringing better internet to rural areas has bipartisan support.
Federal lawmakers and members of the Trump administration also are looking to make internet access more reliable in remote locations.
During the American Farm Bureau
Federation’s annual meeting in Nashville, President Donald Trump said he’d act on issues brought up in an agriculture task force he created last year. As part of that, he signed presidential executive orders to “provide broader and faster, and better internet cover- age.”
The Federal Communications Commission currently tracks data on broadband options in the U.S., but some lawmakers are hoping to improve that system.
Legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and co-spon- sored by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, that recently passed in the Senate aims to improve the reliability of mobile wireless coverage data available to “reflect the real- world experiences of consumers in rural America,” according to a March 2 release from Manchin’s office.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, told Michigan Agri- Business Association in January broadband needs to be a priority.
“If we want to truly expand and create jobs all over Michigan and the quality of life that we want in small towns as well as big cities, you have to have high speed internet,” Stabenow said.
U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, has called broadband access a growing need for farms and businesses in Michigan that contribute more than $101 billion to the state economy.
In a recent statement, Bergman’s office applauded the partnership between Packerland and Microsoft and said he would continue to support policies to make high- speed broadband more affordable and acces- sible.
Plans To Restart Paper Machine In Jay, Maine
MIAMISBURG, Ohio — Verso Corp. has announced plans to upgrade the shuttered pulp line and No. 3 paper machine at its Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, enabling this equipment to restart for the manufacture of packaging products.
The paper machine and associated pulping capacity were temporarily idled in January 2017 and shut down in July 2017 as a result of declining demand for the graphic paper products formerly produced on the machine.
With an anticipated completion date in the third quarter of this year, this project will help Verso diversify its product mix into growing market segments and is expected to create approximately 120 full-time jobs at the mill and additional jobs throughout the Maine forest products supply chain. The estimated total capital cost of the project is $17 million, $4 million of which will come from a Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.0 challenge grant administered by the Maine Technology Institute. Funds from the grant will be become available as certain milestones in the project are reached.
the No. 3 paper machine and associated equipment at the Androscoggin Mill as part of our continuing development of a holistic strategy that includes repositioning of certain assets, and we want to thank Gov. (Paul) LePage and the Maine Technology Institute for their support in helping to make it possi- ble,” said Verso Chief Executive Officer B. Christopher DiSantis. “When this project is completed, the Androscoggin Mill will be more competitive in the global marketplace and better positioned for future success.”
Verso operates seven manufacturing facili- ties, including pulp and paper mills in Quinnesec and Escanaba.
Earlier this year, Verso announced that its Strategic Alternatives Committee would explore the possibility of selling the entire company outright, or merging with another. Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc., Verso’s finan- cial adviser, was directed in September 2017 to identify and evaluate a range of transac- tions to maximize value to Verso stockhold- ers, including potentially selling individual mills.
“Verso identified this upgrade and restart of

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