MRC files for bankruptcy

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 20, 2010

NATCHEZ — Citing continued economic downturns in the pulp and paper industry, pulp recycler Mississippi River Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week in an Ohio court.

MRC, which has operated a pulp recycling plant on Majorca Road in Adams County since 1991, seeks to stave off its debtors temporarily and reorganize, according to court documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Ohio.

The top 20 unsecured debtors listed in court documents shows a total of $3.3 million in outstanding debt, with the largest sum, more than $505,000, owed to Waste Management.

MRC listed a debt of $115,976 to R.W. Delaney Construction in Natchez.

In addition, MRC still owes just over $300,000 to Adams County in lease payments for building improvements and expansions the county helped fund in the early 1990s.

Adams County Chancery Court Clerk Tommy O’Beirne said Friday MRC had been regularly making payments on those leases until October 2009 when the last payment was received.

Adams County Supervisors voted to have board attorney Bobby Cox file the proper claims with the bankruptcy court for the leases.

“As painful as it is to go through this process, the company will emerge stronger and healthier,” MRC Vice President George Matthews said Friday. “Obviously, we don’t like the fact that some people have been hurt, but we’ll do everything we can to treat people properly in the future.

“This isn’t ‘shut the doors, we’re out of business.’”

Matthews said the plant has struggled with low demand and low prices in the last year. MRC currently employs approximately 60 people in Adams County, Matthews said.

“We ran some production in December and some in January, but we have not run any in February,” he said.

Matthews said MRC has recently signed a multi-year agreement with a “major customer” that may signal improved business and subsequent cash flow.

“The volumes are such that we would be running on a regular basis,” he said. “It will put us on stronger ground.”

He said the new agreement should revive production at the Adams County plant soon.

Matthews said the company has seen some recent improvement in the marketplace.

“Certainly the market has gotten tighter and pricing has improved considerably,” he said. “The intention would be to get back to regular run time soon. Down the road, in the not too distant future, we hope to be running three shifts, and seven days a week.”

Matthews said despite the bankruptcy, MRC is still committed to the area.

“We appreciate any and all support we get from the local community,” he said. “We intend to be there for many years to come.”