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Jay Pixelle paper mill closing earlier than expected

JAY, Maine (From news reports) -- The Pixelle Androscoggin paper mill will be closing more than a month earlier than expected, employees learned Wednesday.

Employees were told doors will be closed between March 6 and 9 rather than later in the spring as previously announced.

The mill employs about 230 people and is the town's biggest private employer. The owners, Pixelle Specialty Solutions of Pennsylvania, had announced in September 2022 that the mill would close, citing economic forces that made operations unsustainable. In November, the date of the closure was set at April 30.

"The company calculated the potential need to operate well into April last fall, when it announced its intent to discontinue operations at the mill," Pixelle spokesman Alan Ulman said. "At that time, customer needs for transitional inventories were taken into consideration. As the mill has continued to run for this purpose, these customers have informed Pixelle that their transitional plans have met their objectives. As such, we are discontinuing operations earlier than anticipated last fall."

The mill produces specialty label and release papers, as well as industrial and packaging materials. It was built by International Paper in 1965, but the town has been making paper in several mills since 1888.

Pixelle bought the Androscoggin Mill and associated properties from Verso Corp. in early 2020 as part of a $400 million deal, adding the Jay property to its specialty paper operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Together, the mills operated 11 paper machines, including two in Jay, and produced more than 1 million tons of paper annually.

Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said last week that she and Select Board Chairman Terry Bergeron attended meetings this month with the Maine Development Foundation and Androscoggin Bank, and with Maine Development Foundation, Androscoggin Bank, Androscoggin Valley Council Governments and Greater Franklin Community and Economic Development.

"We are discussing a collaborative approach to look for funding opportunities related to economic development, community engagement, developing a vision for our future, a thriving community" and more, LaFreniere said. "It makes more sense for Jay to be part of a larger, regional application, as opposed to trying to submit an individual application to" Northern Border Regional Commission Grant.

Maine Development Foundation will submit a FORMaine application to the commission, which will include the town of Jay.

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