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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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Stan Ingold
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