Over the past 153 years, they’ve made the paper for the first editions of “Gone With the Wind” and “Harry Potter” books, as well as the paper for U.S. postage stamps, K-cups, 3M Post-it Notes and about two-thirds of all tea bags used in the world today.

Glatfelter, the York, Pa.-based global manufacturer of specialty papers and fiber-based engineered materials, soon will begin making its sought-after "airlaid" products in Fort Smith for the “wipes and hygiene markets."

The company announced in March 2016 it would spend $80 million to repurpose the unused Mitsubishi building at 8201 Chad Colley Blvd. in Fort Smith’s Chaffee Crossing for what has become its 13th manufacturing facility.

Glatfelter is creating at least 80 new, high-tech manufacturing jobs in Fort Smith. The company projected in March 2016 it would be up and running in Fort Smith by late 2017 or early 2018.

“Hopefully soon, and I have to catch myself, we’ll stop calling it the former Mitsubishi building and start calling it what it is for Fort Smith,” Chris Astley, a senior vice president for Glatfelter, told about 120 attendees of the monthly Q&A meeting at DoubleTree Hilton in downtown Fort Smith on Tuesday.

Astley, who also serves as president of Glatfelter’s Advanced Airlaid Materials Business Unit, said ignition will be turned on for the first "airlaid" materials line in Fort Smith sometime next month.

In the past couple weeks, Glatfelter has hired about 20 more employees, Astley said. Earlier this spring, Astley wrote in a progress report to the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce that 13 of its new team members for the Fort Smith facility have been traveling to Glatfelter’s "airlaid" facilities in Gatineau, Canada, and Falkenhagen, Germany, “to learn new skills in preparation for training new team members.” It was also noted then the company anticipated hiring most of its new Glatfelter employees in the second half of this year.

“The talent levels of highly skilled manufacturing employees in Fort Smith are meeting our expectations, and we continue to establish partnerships with local universities and schools in the Fort Smith area,” Astley wrote in that report.

Tim Allen, president of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, told Q&A attendees the courtship to attract Glatfelter to Fort Smith took about nine months and there were several other cities in the running. The company had been primarily looking for a place in the piney South. Allen noted that someone in his national network brought the company’s needs to his attention.

“One of the things that struck me about Glatfelter is that right away, when I sat down with them, they wanted to know about the community and the workforce and the overall culture of our community, because they wanted to make sure it fit with the culture of their company,” Allen said. “That rarely happens in my industry.”

The chamber president said many organizations are more interested in how much money they are going to get for bringing their business to Fort Smith.

“One of the first things they mentioned to me was that they were a company that likes to give back to the community,” Allen said. “Those were magic words for me. I knew then they were the perfect company for Fort Smith.”

Allen also explained the tricky situation with facilitating the sale of the building and convincing Glatfelter that neither Little Rock nor Conway was the right place for its next facility.