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Report: Paper Industry Still Vital Part of Maine's Economy

Susan Sharon
Maine Public/file
The Veso Paper mill in Jay, where 190 workers are expected to be laid off this month.

BANGOR, Maine - The death of Maine's pulp and paper industry is highly exaggerated.  That's the conclusion of a new preliminary report by Mindy Crandall, an assistant professor of Forest Management and Economics at the University of Maine.Though eight major biomass power generators and paper companies have disappeared from the map in Maine since the last time the industry conducted an economic analysis of the forest products market six years ago, Crandall told those attending a meeting Thursday evening of the Forest Resources Association in Brewer that forest products are still a vital component of Maine's overall economy.

"We tend to hear a lot of the bad press about the forest products industry and we sort of don't take into account the real historical view," Crandall said. "The fact is we're in about the same historical position in terms of its economic impact and value as we were in 2011. So yeah, some mills have closed and some of those were big important mills, but the mills that are still remaining tend to employ a  lot more people and have a lot more output than the ones that have closed."

Crandall says her preliminary findings suggest that despite the loss of 1,800 jobs in the paper-making and biomass energy sectors, the forest products industry will have a 2016 sales output of $8.5 billion, compared to $9.8 billion in 2014.