PORTLAND, Maine — About 214 people who will lose their jobs in May with the closure of the Madison Paper mill have been cleared to receive federal aid to help them adapt to new jobs or careers.

Three members of Maine’s congressional delegation announced Tuesday that the mill employees qualified for Trade Adjustment Assistance, which is available to employees who lose their jobs primarily because of foreign competition.

“Our workers are the best in the world, and they can compete when there is a level playing field,” U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said in a joint statement.

Madison and fellow supercalendered papermaker Verso Paper previously won a trade dispute with Canadian importers. The U.S. International Trade Commission determined certain Canadian producers of that paper received government subsidies that it could counteract with tariffs. That grade of paper is used in color printing applications, such as for magazines, retail inserts, directories and coupons.

The TAA application was filed on behalf of the mill’s 214 employees, for the closure expected in mid-May.

The company in 2015 faced a near doubling of supercalendered paper imports from Canada, while the Canadian dollar also dropped sharply. Union officials said that drop in the Canadian dollar offset the impact of tariffs, which two other producers, Catalyst and J.D. Irving Ltd., have disputed.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance program helps fund job retraining and provides wage subsidies, which can for a period of time bridge the gap between what a person was earning and what they make at a new job.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.