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February 7, 2014

Great Northern Paper Co. lays off 212

Great Northern Paper Co. has laid off more than 80% of its 256-person work force as the company works on a plan to restructure the business that it says was hit hard by rising energy and production costs and declining prices for its paper.

The company said in a press release that 212 workers were delivered layoff notices Friday, which the company characterized as temporary. The Bangor Daily News reported the company, owned by Portsmouth, N.H.-based Cate Street Capital, has not filed Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notices because layoffs are not expected to last beyond six months.

Company spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne told the newspaper the company still plans to restart production within 16 weeks. On Jan. 23, the company announced it would stop production and keep on its 256 workers for at least two months to increase operating efficiency and to resolve outstanding payments to vendors. The BDN reported that as of Thursday the company owes the town of Millinocket $2.3 million in property taxes and the town of East Millinocket $659,700 in property taxes.

Tranchemontagne said Thursday that the mill's long-term viability will, in large part, hinge on the success of Cate Street's planned Thermogen Industries facility in Millinocket. That subsidiary, which received a $25 million loan from the Finance Authority of Maine in October, plans to make wood pellets through a process called torrefaction and sell them to European markets.

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