Mill Closing Is 'Major Setback' For Ala. Town

International Paper will close a mill in Courtland, Alabama, that employs more than 1,000 workers. The company blamed a decline in the demand for paper products in the U.S. for the decision. It said the shutdown will be completed in about six months.

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The world's largest paper producer says it's closing a mill in Alabama that employs 1,100 people. International Paper Company blames the closure in the town of Courtland on a decline in the demand for paper. Stan Ingold of Alabama Public Radio reports.

STAN INGOLD, BYLINE: The small town of Courtland, Alabama is reeling after the announcement by Memphis-based International Paper to close their mill. Diane Scanland is the executive director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

DIANE SCANLAND: It's devastating. The mill's been here so long and they've been a really good employer and they've been a really good community partner. So it's a real emotional time for everybody here. You know, everybody's just devastated.

INGOLD: The Courtland mill produces paper for printers, envelopes, and magazines. Company officials say the closure is due to a lack of demand in the United States. However, the company is looking to Russia and China, spending $1.2 billion in Russia to modernize a 50-year-old pulp mill to make Chinese toilet paper and paper towels. Scanland says the community is losing more than just its largest employer.

SCANLAND: They also provided a lot of volunteers for the community. They also provided funding for different projects and sponsorships for non-profits, so it will be a major setback.

INGOLD: The company says it will work with union officials on help for hourly workers. Salaried employees will get severance packages. For NPR News, I'm Stan Ingold in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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