JAY  — Androscoggin Bank has committed $30,000 over three years for economic development in the region following Pixelle Specialty Solutions’ closure of the paper mill here this month.

Bank representatives informed the Select Board about the commitment Monday, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said. It will be $10,000 each of the next three years.

Mill representatives announced in September that it would permanently close the Androscoggin Mill during the first quarter of 2023. That date was extended until April 30, but in February the closing date was moved up to the week of March 6.

Prior to announcing the earlier closing, mill officials submitted a tax abatement application to Jay for an undetermined amount of value and tax dollars on its personal property and its real estate. The reason, according to the application, was the property exceeded market value. It was filed Feb. 17, the last day an abatement could be requested.

The Select Board already denied abatements for three properties because the real estate is in tree growth, which are assessed using state rates, according to LaFreniere.

The action followed an executive session on March 13. The board also asked for information related to Pixelle Androscoggin’s application for abatement of property taxes for the 34 remaining properties.


According to a letter submitted and dated March 9 to LaFeniere from Neil Kiely, president and chief executive officer of Androscoggin Bank, banking officials understand the challenges the community is facing with the announced closure of the paper mill.

“Our Jay branch located across the street from the Town Office employs seven professionals and we count scores of current or recent workers at Pixelle’s Androscoggin Paper Mill as our clients,” Kiely wrote. “When the mill’s pulp digester exploded on (April 15, 2020) and (pieces landed in our parking lot), deliveries of local wood fiber to the plant ceased, temporarily ending income to local wood cutters and haulers.”

Kiely said that when it was announced in November 2020 that the digester would not be rebuilt, the bank recognized the finality of that impact.

“We began searching for ways to help and found one through the Jobs for New England Recovery Grant program,” he said. Leveraging these grant funds, the bank awarded over $7,000 to seven local businesses that were negatively impacted by the lost of the digester, he said.

The bank injected $50,000 into the local economy in 2021 to help mitigate the loss.

“The announced closure of the mill this month offers a finality which affects the region differently,” Kiely wrote. “Between the loss of the digester and expected loss of value from remaining papermaking equipment, the Town of Jay will lose over $210 million in property valuation. This loss will have significant ripple effects to the adjoining communities of Livermore and Livermore Falls as the cost of shared services such as public education is redistributed.”


The letter went on, “How the region will make up this loss in property value, how the economy will recover after losing 230 full-time papermaking jobs, and what will become of the mill property in the future are all unknown.”

“What is known is that the residents, businesses and the communities of this region have the potential to answer each of these questions and to work together to realize a prosperous future,” he wrote. “But to realize that potential, the region’s local leaders need help. Androscoggin Bank is proud to be one of a handful of businesses and nonprofit organizations and governmental entities working to help the region to recover from this significant economic downturn.”

Along with the town, Maine Development Foundation, greater Jay Region Chamber of Commerce, Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Greater Franklin Economic and Community Development and Androscoggin Bank are lending their time and expertise to help forge a path forward for the region.

“Our bank has formed an Androscoggin Mill Closure Response Team, which has seven members and meets monthly and attends special events and regional meetings as necessary to support economic and community development efforts,” Kiely wrote.

The purpose of the $10,000 for the each of the next three years is to help these efforts grow and support workforce, community, economic and leadership development efforts in the greater Jay region, he wrote.

Pixelle, headquartered in Pennsylvania, also expressed its support for the town’s economic development efforts with a $5,000 cash match for a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission: Forest Economy Program the town and other mentioned entities are going to apply for.

“Given the several economic challenges the town has faced over the past 15 years with the closing of one paper mill in 2009 and now the permanent shutdown of the Androscoggin Mill, this project will assist the town in developing plans for its future and supporting its workers,” Eric Hanson, vice president and general manager of Androscoggin Operations at Pixelle Specialty Solutions, wrote in a letter dated March 6.

The Wausau Paper Otis Mill, which straddled the Jay/Livermore Falls line, closed in 2009.

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