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Governor updates Verso, Luke Mill efforts

May 2nd, 2019 by WCBC Radio

Governor Larry Hogan announced an update today on actions the administration has taken to help the workers and families affected by the closure of the Verso Paper Mill in Luke, Md. Multiple state agencies are communicating with local officials and working to provide support, resources, and to seek both state and federal funding and grant options.

"My heart goes out to each and every one of these workers and their families,” said Governor Hogan. “We will continue to dedicate all of our efforts to helping the community come back from this stronger than ever.”

Governor’s Office

  • On Tuesday, April 30, shortly after the decision was announced, Governor Hogan spoke to the company’s CEO, as well as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, home to many of the mill workers.
  • On Wednesday, May 1, Governor Hogan held a meeting with legislators from Allegany County, as well as County Administrator Brandon Butler. Participants included Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, and Acting Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary James Rzepkowski.

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

  • The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s (DLLR) Rapid Response Team is in ongoing communications with both Verso’s human resources department as well as employee representatives.
  • DLLR has filed a Trade Adjustment Act petition with the U.S. Department of Labor. If accepted, resources would cover additional benefits.
  • DLLR is mobilizing resources to assist the impacted employees during the transition, and to help shorten or eliminate time between employment opportunities.
    • DLLR will work with Maryland Department of Commerce to set up a series of job fairs and partner with local economic development offices to place workers within other companies that are hiring.
    • EARN Maryland, a state-funded, competitive workforce development grant program that is industry-led and regional in focus, will work to provide resources to upskill and train impacted workers.
    • Through DLLR, the Western Maryland American Job Center is offering a variety of employment and support resources to assist job seekers.

Maryland Department of Commerce

  • Maryland Department of Commerce will work with companies in Verso’s supply chain to assist with resources and help connect them with new opportunities.
  • The Department will be working to actively market the Verso site for potential purchase or investment.

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

  • Through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the administration will secure additional resources such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development and Community Services Block Grant programs, which provide annual grants to develop viable urban communities and expand economic opportunities.
  • DHCD will provide assistance through Technical Assistance Grants and Community Legacy Grants.
  • DHCD will also work closely with the municipal and county government to address pressing infrastructure needs.

Maryland Department of Planning

  • The Maryland Department of Planning may leverage the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local governments, to help build community capacity and strengthen economic growth.
  • Regional Planners will assist in accessing ARC funding available for workforce training and retraining certification.
  • Additional ARC and U.S. Department of Labor – National Worker Reserve Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Grants will also be available.

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