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Governor announces 96 new Strasburg jobs

Oasis Brands CEO Nathan Hanson, left, stands beside Gov. Terry McAuliffe while he answers reporters' questions Thursday morning at Mercury Paper in Strasburg. The governor announced Mercury Paper, one of North America’s fastest-growing tissue converting operations, will invest $25 million to expand. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe shakes hands with Kimberly Murray, right, economic development manager for the town of Strasburg, while town manager Judson Rex looks on during the governor's visit to Mercury Paper in Strasburg on Thursday. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe holds some toilet tissue given to him during a news conference Thursday at Mercury Paper in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Oasis Brands CEO Nathan Hanson passes a package of toilet paper to Gov. Terry McAuliffe during a news conference Thursday at Mercury Paper in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe addresses Mercury Paper employees and area officials during a news conference Thursday morning at Mercury Paper in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Mercury Paper employees attending a news conference Thursday heard that 96 more employees would be hired at the Strasburg plant by 2015. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Ryan Cornell

STRASBURG -- Gov. Terry McAuliffe appeared at the Mercury Paper plant in Strasburg on Thursday morning to laud the $25 million investment promised by the paper company and to announce the addition of 96 new jobs.

Mercury Paper is investing $25 million into expanding its operations that will create 96 jobs by early 2015. Currently, Mercury Paper has 138 employees.

McAuliffe made the announcement following an hour-long tour of the 40,000-square-foot plant.

"I'm excited to see what has happened," he said. "I was really excited to walk around, and who knew that toilet paper was a $24 billion industry?"

Mercury Paper, which was founded in 2009, manufactures Fiora toilet paper and paper towels for Winchester-based Oasis Brands. McAuliffe remarked on the potential for growth of both companies.

"The idea that you have come into a new market and taking on Charmin and a couple other big boys. It's not easy to jump into a new market, and you have done it, and you are the fastest growing tissue paper in the United States of America," he said.

Oasis Brands CEO Nathan Hanson compared the empty Strasburg warehouse four years ago to its current capacity of 300 tons.

"Four or five years ago, the economy in this area was not very good, Wall Street had crashed, people were reevaluating their brand choices," he said.

"... It was all based on a vision we had about establishing a company that people wanted to be at that could set a new beginning."

Strasburg Mayor Tim Taylor commended the quality of the paper product and the company's contributions to employment and local causes.

Mercury Paper and Oasis Brands donated 96 cases of Fiora products, including toilet paper and paper towels, to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank on Thursday.

Taylor also credited Strasburg Economic Development Manager Kimberly Murray with establishing an economic model to help move the town forward.

"Obviously this news today validates that," he said. "So it's a step in the right direction."

Taylor presented McAuliffe with a piece of Strasburg pottery and a framed picture of his daughter with the governor. McAuliffe received a framed Fiora advertisement and a 12-pack of lavender-scented toilet paper from Hanson.

"I laugh about these gifts because when I became governor, I did a couple executive orders, but my second executive order was to put a $100 gift ban on myself, my family and anybody who works in my administration," McAuliffe said.

He said that when he returns to the plant near the end of his term, he expects to see continued exponential growth.

"Fiora will be all over, not only the United States...but you will be a global leader with a lot more lines and a lot more employees," he said.

Also attending the conference was Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Eric Bagwell from Congressman Bob Goodlatte's office, Mercury Paper Plant Manager Bill Moore, town council members from Strasburg and Winchester, members of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors and workers from Mercury Paper and Oasis Brands.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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