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Layoffs begin at Boise paper mill in International Falls

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Another round of layoffs has begun at the Boise paper mill in International Falls.

MPR reports that 265 workers, a third of the giant mill's workforce, will have their jobs eliminated. By early next week, two paper machines and a coating machine will be shut down. There are 580 jobs remaining at the mill, making it the largest employer in the county and in Koochiching County.

The layoffs come as no surprise; they were announced in May as a result of a slowdown in demand for paper products. In the meantime, Boise Inc. announced the company would be sold to a rival, Illinois-based Packaging Corporation of America, which specializes in cardboard and boxes, rather than paper. The Duluth News Tribune reported the sale would not alter the layoff plans.

The University of Minnesota Duluth and U of M Extension produced an “economic emergency report” that found the layoffs create a $200 million annual deficit in the local economy. Laid off workers earn an estimated income of $26 million, said the report.

Calling the layoffs "a calamity" for the community, Mayor Bob Anderson is seeking to diversify the local economy by courting new employers in diverse fields including data centers, assembly, energy, rail and tourism.

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