Mill Closing Is 'Major Setback' For Ala. Town
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
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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