RUMFORD – U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, told a small group of NewPage Corp. employees Friday morning that he is working to set up a bipartisan caucus to focus on issues facing the paper industry.

Michaud toured several sites in the Rumford and Paris areas.

He said the new caucus will be made up of congressional members who represent states or districts that have paper mills.

“We want to focus on the issues that are important to our industry, some of the failed policies. We want to educate members of Congress,” he said.

Included among those issues are the lack of valued added taxes.

“More than 150 countries have valued added taxes. We don’t. That encourages companies to move overseas,” he said. Michaud is still listed as an employee of Great Northern Paper Co. in Millinocket.

Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, a NewPage employee, said the perception is still out in the greater community that the paper industry will go the way of the shoe factories.

“I don’t see that. We need to find a way to get the message out that the paper industry is here to stay,” he said.

Michaud agreed that the paper industry isn’t going anywhere. It may change, however, he said.

He said a bill before Congress would focus on the 2nd Congressional District of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and northern New York. and emphasize the natural resources and economy of that region.

He also spoke on a variety of other issues, including the need to focus on a manufacturing base.

“We don’t want protectionism, but a level playing field,” he said.

Michaud also visited the CareerCenter in downtown Rumford where he spoke with people who are looking for work, then Western Maine College and the CareerCenter in Paris/Norway.

Michaud’s visit came almost at the end of a 10-day shutdown at NewPage Corp.

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