KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday for the conversion of Domtar’s Kingsport mill, which will produce containerboard once operational.

During the ceremony, the mill presented the City of Kingsport with a $500,000 check.

The half-a-million donation is to support the relocation of the Scott Adams Memorial Skate Park that has been used by the greater Kingsport community for years.

The move is part of a land swap agreement with the city, which includes exchanging the 40-acre Cement Hill property for Cloud Park. It is something the Kingsport mill manager, Troy Wilson, said was to prevent truck traffic going into the mill from being disrupted.

“We understand that there’s a sensitivity from the traffic standpoint and the trucking standpoint, so when we started laying the mill out, one of the objectives was to make sure that we didn’t impact the downtown area with the truck traffic and the in and out of the final products, so we developed a route into the mill and that route took us to this partial of land that we have today,” Wilson said.

By being located in downtown Kingsport, Wilson hopes the mill will be able to breathe life into the city for years to come.

“It will bring more opportunity. If you look at the world with more opportunity, it’s just a whole ‘nother environment. It’s a recycling facility now, so I get calls daily from people within the community, ‘Can we bring our boxes to you?’ So, it’s already impacted the community in the way that they realize that this is a good thing,” Wilson said.

The paper-to-container plant transformation represents a three-year $300 million investment. The plant expected to come online during the first quarter of 2023 with about 140 employees.

“We have a fantastic workforce. We have an incredible cooperative local community, and we feel we can build a very, very competitive mill here to actually supply the containerboard industry,” Domtar CEO John Williams said.

“The material that’s in your cardboard boxes that turn up at your door or what groceries are transported in. So, that’s why we’ve done it,” Williams said. “It’s a new market for us and we’re really saying to those independent box makers out there, we will be the one supplier out there that really wants to support you and drive your business forward.”

Williams said he noticed the decline of the paper industry about two years ago. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has excelled the decline, which is why the company chose to make the switch to containerboard.

Once complete, the mill will house the second-largest container-board recycling machine in North America. It will have the capacity to produce about 600,000 tons per year.