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2015: Bad Year for Mills

    WESTBROOK, Maine (AP) _ Maine's once-thriving paper mill industry continued its downturn in 2015 in the face of closures and consolidation.

    The state's paper manufacturing industry employed nearly 13,000 people as recently as the early 2000s. Industry representatives say it now employs 6,150. There are now less than half as many pulp and paper mills in the state as there were in 1980.

    The bankrupt Lincoln Paper and Tissue mill was purchased after a November auction. Wisconsin-based Expera Specialty Solutions has also announced plans to shutter its Old Town facility.

    Other mills closed in Millinocket, East Millinocket and Bucksport in recent years. The sale of the Bucksport mill to a Canadian metal recycler was completed in January 2015 and demolition began in December.

    Industry representatives blame factors including digitization and foreign competition.

    The closures affect Vermont, too, because many of the state's loggers had been selling their products in Maine.