The cost of doing business is forcing Great Northern Paper in East Millinocket to stop producing paper, affecting the jobs of more than 250 people.
A spokesperson for the company says production might not start again for up to four months.
The company stopped making paper Thursday, at the end of the afternoon shift.
Scott Tranchemontagne says high production costs combined with lower market prices led to the decision to end paper production at the mill, for up to 16 weeks.
He says that will give the company time to create a new business plan.
Tranchemontagne says all of the workers will be retained for at least two months and he hopes they will come to work and help the company work on some of its issues.
If paper production doesn’t start back up by then, he’s not sure what will happen to those jobs.
Tranchemontagne says, “Everybody is guaranteed to be paid over the next 60 days. We’re going to ask our employees to work with us to find the solution we need to find for lowering our production costs. I can’t today forecast where we’ll be 60 days from now. What I can tell you is we know the problems in terms of our high production costs and we really have to work in and figure out how to get those costs down.”
The company will work on paying back-bills and also stop the effort to convert the mill to natural gas heat for now.
A spokesperson for Governor LePage’s office says, “The LePage Administration looks forward to GNP’s success in the long term and will work with them to put them in that position.”
Adrienne Bennett added, “A major economic factor for business success is the cost of electricity. Maine companies will continue to identify creative ways to save money as a result of high electricity rates. For years, Gov. LePage has advocated for lower electricity costs for all Mainers, and he will continue to work on lowering prices to reduce the financial burden on companies like GNP.”