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‘Sworn to secrecy’: LePage says Maine firm to cut 900 jobs

April 7, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage says that a company in southern Maine is on the verge of shedding 900 jobs, and he suggested that the company is leaving the state.

The Republican governor told an audience at a town-hall-style meeting in Orono on Wednesday that he would not name the firm because he is he “sworn to secrecy” until the company makes a public announcement.

“We are talking about 900 jobs — 900 jobs in the most prosperous part of our state, down south in northern Massachusetts,” LePage said.

LePage in the past has described York County as “northern Massachusetts.”

There are only a handful of companies in Maine with more than 1,000 employees. The largest private manufacturer in York Country is Pratt & Whitney, which operates an aircraft engine parts factory in North Berwick. The company has between 1,000 and 1,500 employees, according to state labor records.

Other large southern Maine manufacturers include Sappi Fine Paper in Westbrook, IDDEX Laboratories, which has recently made major investments its Westbrook facility, and Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland.

Fairchild’s rival, ON Semiconductor of Phoenix, has been trying to close on a recent merger agreement between the two companies.

LePage said the state’s high energy costs were the reason for the pending layoffs. He said the unnamed company is unable to compete with those in China that have access to cheap electricity generated by nuclear power.

“Again, it’s about energy costs for that company,” he said. “The biggest single issue is they’re competing against Chinese nuclear power, and they’re in Maine with the No. 12 energy costs in America.”

Doug Ray, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, said on Thursday that officials will not discuss publicly “any possible outcome involving a private Maine business.”

A LePage spokesman declined to comment.

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