Gorham Paper and Tissue

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Gorham Paper and Tissue, the last paper plant in the North Country, will soon be operating again – but with far fewer workers...

The plant was closed for about a month while officials considered a new business strategy, but now they have it worked out, said CEO Mike Cummings.

Two of the three paper machines that were running earlier this year will start within the next week or two. They’ll produce tissue paper and the type of paper towels typically found at gas stations, Cummings said.

NHPR / Chris jensen

Gorham Paper and Tissue, the town’s largest employer, is temporarily cutting back operations, a move that will lead to 20 to 50 employees losing their jobs.

The company says other employees will see week-long layoffs.

In an email Friday, CEO Mike Cummings says the move is in response to record-setting natural gas prices.

Gorham Town Manager Robin Frost says the news is devastating for the town’s economy.

For the first time since 2009 a guide to the White Mountains is being printed on paper produced in the North Country.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

For the first time in more than a decade a paper plant in Gorham – once thought to be dead - is hiring workers.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Just over a year ago a New York investment firm, Patriarch Partners, bought the closed Gorham paper mill and promised a new future.

The Gorham facility was the last paper plant standing in the North Country and many doubted Patriarch’s CEO, Lynn Tilton, could make a go of it where others had failed.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Switching to natural gas at the Gorham Paper and Tissue mill cost about $5.4 million but paid for itself in about four months, says Willis Blevins, the general manager of the plant.

Last year the company made the change from heating oil.

The goal was to reduce the enormous energy cost that Blevins says was always a problem when it came to making the plant consistently profitable.

The new owner, Patriarch Partners, was willing to make the investment the previous owner was not.

The Center for Public Integrity has a new report on pollution problems in New England including the Old Town Fuel & Fiber, which is owned by the same company as Gorham Paper and Tissue.