- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BUCKSPORT, Maine (AP) - Verso is closing the company’s Bucksport mill, putting more than 500 people out of work, after company officials concluded that it cannot be made profitable, officials said Wednesday

The Bucksport mill hasn’t been profitable for many years, and high energy costs played a role, the company said.

“Our assessment indicates that it is impossible for the mill to achieve profitability in today’s marketplace,” Dave Paterson, president and CEO, said in a statement.

Layoffs will begin on Dec. 1, officials said. All told, 570 Verso workers are expected to lose their jobs.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who said he’d be visiting the region on Thursday, called an emergency meeting with his economic development team which is “committed to working with Verso and other interested parties in order to keep the mill open.”

“This is a true loss for the region,” he said. “We are putting all of our available resources into assisting these workers, this industry and this region and we are also going to assist in the search for a buyer for this operation.”

Tennessee-based Verso, which owns another mill in Jay, announced in January that it’d reached a deal to purchase NewPage Holdings Inc., which owns a mill in Rumford. The deal is currently under federal antitrust review.

The closing of the Bucksport mill represents a continuation of paper industry’s struggles in Maine. Great Northern Paper, whose mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket are currently idle, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last week.

The move will hit Bucksport hard. Town Manager Derick Goodine told WABI-TV that taxes paid by Verso account for more than 40 percent of the town’s budget.


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