Sappi North America will permanently shut down its No. 9 paper machine and cut about 75 positions — nearly 30 percent of the workforce — at its Westbrook mill, the company announced Thursday.
The shutdown, which the company expects to complete by Jan 1, will entail shifting that paper machine’s production to mills in Cloquet, Minnesota and Skowhegan, the Portland Press Herald reported. Major components of the mill’s energy complex will also cease. About 260 workers are employed at the Westbrook mill.
The restructuring “is necessary to ensure the Westbrook Mill is a sustainable contributor that can compete effectively in the global marketplace,” Sappi North America CEO Mike Haws said in a letter to employees, according to the Press Herald. “We believe that these difficult steps will set up the Westbrook Mill for future success.”
Westbrook Mayor Michael T. Foley said that he plans to immediately contact the Maine Department of Labor to help the workers who will be laid off.
“We have all experienced the steady decline in operations and employment at the Sappi Westbrook mill, which reflects the dramatic changes we have seen elsewhere in the paper manufacturing industry over the last few decades,” Foley said in a statement released by his office on Thursday. “We are encouraged by Sappi’s commitment to consider redevelopment opportunities for their Westbrook site and look forward to working with their team to identify appropriate reuse options for their facilities.”