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When faced with difficult news, there are really just two ways that a person can react.

You can passively accept what you’re hearing and try to move on.

Or you can move aggressively to make things better.

When Domtar Corporation announced this week that it was permanently closing part of its operation in Baileyville, I was disappointed and concerned for the community and the workers affected.

I’ve seen this before in Maine, and each time it rips at my heart. Maine’s paper industry is in transition, and the changing nature of global competition has hurt some of older mills.

I hear from people all the time who say that there’s no future in the paper industry in Maine. They have given up hope on one of the state’s most important industrial sectors and look for excuses or someone to blame.

My administration has never lost faith in Maine’s ability to compete and to be successful.

It’s hard to hear about another mill – another community – going through this struggle, but we know from experience that both can come through to the other side.

Look at Lincoln, Millinocket and Old Town.

When the mill in Lincoln declared bankruptcy, I had to send in the state police to keep the opportunities for redevelopment from being wasted.

We saved that mill by being aggressive, and now 400 people are working and a there’s a $21 million payroll.

In Millinocket, two mills were on the verge. Now they are back, and 700 people have good jobs.

And in Old Town, Georgia Pacific turned its back on Maine and allowed its mill to collapse. We worked for eight months, partnering with the University of Maine and local and federal officials, and we found a new owner – and new hope.

200 workers are back on the job, and more will be coming.

For the Woodland mill in Baileyville, the news was not nearly as bad as it was in Old Town. While 150 jobs will be lost, more than 300 jobs remain, and the mill will continue to make pulp.

The shutdown of the paper machine in Baileyville was one of just four announcements made by Domtar this week. The company also closed two facilities in Canada and another paper machine in Port Edwards, Wisconsin.

I have spoken to the Domtar’s CEO and other senior officials. They have assured me that they see a future for their pulp operation in Baileyville and intend to invest millions in upgrading the operation.

That’s good news.

But we will also take what we have learned from other mills and put it to work to secure Woodland’s future.

Maine has been aggressive in taking steps that have kept Domtar’s pulp operation competitive. Our forest certification program helps the company to better market its products worldwide.

The certification program gives the “green” seal of approval to Domtar. It guarantees that the wood being used to produce pulp is harvested in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.

Sustainable forest management is the hook that gives Maine companies an advantage in the global marketplace, and we need to expand participation and increase the number of acres covered. That’s one way to protect the forest product industries – and jobs -- in Maine.

Maine has also partnered with the University System to develop new technology that makes it possible to produce ethanol as part of the pulp-making process.

The process holds great promise to make Maine pulp operations more profitable while also creating an alternative source of fuel. That technology can be put to work at pulp mills around the state, including the one in Baileyville.

The work being done at the University is the kind of innovation that will drive this state’s economy into the future. It will help modernize our old industries and help to fight global warming and make our state and country more energy secure.

That’s the future of the paper industry in Maine. And I believe it can still be bright.

At the same time, we haven’t forgotten about the people – the families who will be hurt by Domtar’s decision. We are there for them.

The Maine Department of Labor will work with every affected worker. We will make sure they have the help they need to get by in the short-term, and the opportunities and training for the long-term.

These men and women are our friends and neighbors, and we will not forget them. This is a tough time, but they will not go through it alone.

We face an imperative in Maine. We must innovate, dedicate ourselves to making smart investments in technology and infrastructure, and educate our people so they are prepared for a future that rewards the highly skilled and well-trained.

If we do this – and we must – then our old industries will be reborn alongside promising new ones.

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