Wisconsin's paper industry has seen many changes over the past 170 years and continues to be a cornerstone of Wisconsin's economy. Papermaking in Wisconsin began in Milwaukee on March 7, 1848. The paper was made of rags and used to publish the Milwaukee Sentinel & Gazette. Three months after the first papermaking began in Wisconsin, President Polk signed legislation to make Wisconsin a state.
Wisconsin’s paper industry has come a long way since that day in March of 1848. With the introduction of the Keller groundwood process, in 1872, the focus of papermaking shifted to the state’s forests; paper could now be made of wood pulp. There was natural migration of the industry to northern and central Wisconsin to take advantage of the abundant wood forests and the Wisconsin and Fox River. For decades the highest concentration of paper mills in the world stretched from Neenah to Green Bay.
New technologies and industry advancements have allowed Wisconsin’s papermaking to more than double in the past thirty years, nearly quadrupling paper and paperboard production in that time. Even though we have less paper mills and manufacturing locations new technology has allowed us to produce paper products more efficiently. This efficiency is a big reason Wisconsin has been America's number one papermaker for over 50 years.
The products made in Wisconsin also sets us apart from competitors in other states and around the world. We make a great deal of tissue and consumer products used at home and away; specialty papers that are used in food packaging, medical facilities, high-tech manufacturing, and packaging that is used for growing the e-commerce business and product displays; coated paper that is used in magazines, advertisements, and textbooks; and printing and writing papers that are used at home and at the office.