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LINCOLN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Lincoln Paper and Tissue continues to take steps forward after a boiler explosion last November forcing half of its workforce to be laid off. A new partnership with Efficiency Maine will allow the mill to receive one million dollars in grant money to update their machines causing them to become more energy efficient and profitable.

Vice President of Operations Marco L'Italien with Lincoln Paper and Tissue said, "You have to be very very good or your competition will beat you out. So it is a challenge...We used to have 370 employees here. Now we have about 200. Right now we are trying to make sure that number doesn't continue to slide."

The funding will go towards the mill's renovation project to update their tissue making facility.

The equipment will allow the mill to process colored tissue, which it leads the country in as a manufacturer, cutting its processing down by more than half.

L'Italien said, "It's paramount. It is absolutely critical. We have to be effective and efficient with processing this fiber and it is the starting point to making quality products cost effectively."

This part of the renovation can be described as laying the foundation for the mill. It will not bring the workers back and it will not bring new jobs, but what it does is set a precedent for future expansion. The focus now, according to L'Italien, is to get the three tissue machines stable and profitable.

"We are still kind of in survival mode....We had to cut off the arms to save the body. We are still in the process of saving the body right now, but obviously what we want to do is make this a viable tissue operation."

Even with the news of extra funding, L'Italien admits workers remain wary.

"We are still too early in the process for people to really take a deep breath. People are still worried about the future here and we are too in management. this is not going to be an easy road. This is going to be a big help," explained L'Italien.

The renovation is estimated to cost five million dollars. The last of the updated machinery will arrive by October.

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