ROCKLAND — Rockland-based newspaper publisher Village NetMedia has closed its printing facility at the Rockland Industrial Park, and laid off 17 of its 71 staff.

Starting July 6, four of the company’s newspapers — The Herald Gazette, The Republican Journal, The Bar Harbor Times and Capital Weekly — will be printed in Lewiston by the Sun Journal Media Group.

CEO Richard M. Anderson said the Sun Journal’s equipment is more advanced and efficient than Village NetMedia’s presses, which are more than 40 years old and require costly repairs.

He said the move will reduce Village NetMedia’s printing expenses and help the company compete in a changing media environment.

“We can all image (that) in the future there won’t be dramatically more content printed on paper. It was the best economic decision to not reinvest (in the presses),” he said.

As a result of the closure, the company terminated 15 full-time and 2 part-time employees. Two staffers have accepted other jobs at the company, Anderson said.

Affected workers will receive severance pay, and Village NetMedia is working with the Maine JobBank CareerCenter to provide former employees with retraining and help in finding new jobs.

“This is a very dedicated and capable staff. Our decision has no relationship to the quality of their work. They have worked expertly to keep the machines running at the highest possible quality,” said Anderson in the press release.

Founded in 1997 by Anderson and his son, Village NetMedia publishes four newspapers in midcoast Maine. The company acquired the printing press and six newspapers with the purchase of Courier Publications in 2008.

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