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Optimism follows Gorham mill sale

March 03, 2011
GORHAM — The former Fraser mill in Gorham has sold — again — but this time the news rippled through the Androscoggin Valley spreading optimism rather than gloom. "It's the best possible news we could've gotten," said Gorham Town Manager Robin Frost. "They have things lined up."

"They" are the new owners, Gorham Paper LLC, a newly formed company comprised investors including the Portsmouth-based Cate Street Capital. Cate Street was most recently linked as one of the investors involved with the Laidlaw Berlin power plant project.

Gorham Paper will purchase the plant from Counsel RB Capital and the closing is expected to take place on April 1. Frost said that the new owners plan to put people to work right away, and even have plans to invest in the mill. She said she was heartened by the new owners not only saying they would put people back to work, but also that they have plans for the future.

"It's really a good feeling we had after meeting John Halle — one of the principals," Frost said. The news that the company is willing to put money into the mill gives locals a lot more hope for the sustainability of the factory, she noted.

The mill shut down under Fraser Papers due to bankruptcy on Oct. 13, 2010 and has stood idle since.

According to a press release issued by Gorham Paper LLC on Friday, Feb. 25, the newly formed company has worked over recent months with an internal development team, paper industry advisors and financial institutions to be able to "restore the mill as a leader in the North Country's economy."

Prior to its closure the mill employed approximately 240 workers and was the last paper mill in the North Country. With the help of Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the a project to build a pipeline from the Mt. Carberry landfill to the mill, that will supply gas to the property and reduce operating costs, received federal funding last fall.

Frost credited both the union and former mill general manager Willis Blevins with helping the deal along. "The union has worked really well with management to get this to happen," she said.

With everyone focused on getting people back to work, things are looking up, Frost said. "It's a great feeling. It really is."

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