Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) visited the central Finland municipality of Jämsä on Friday as the community comes to terms with the closure of the Kaipola paper mill.
On Wednesday forestry products firm UPM announced plans to shut down its production plant in the area, and that 450 of the facility's workers would lose their jobs.
During her visit, Marin met with UPM staff and factory workers as well as local officials.
The meetings were also attended by Minister for Employment Tuula Haatainen (SDP) and Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari (SDP).
In a statement to the press, Marin said that the knock-on effects of the factory's closure will be severe and have a major impact on the community, but she added that the government is preparing measures to support the region.
"My message to Jämsä is that you are not alone," Marin said. "The state is committed to finding replacement jobs and giving people in the region the opportunity to find employment."
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Marin also called on UPM to recall furloughed workers, who had been temporarily laid off due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
"The situation is difficult for the employees, their families and the entire region. This will have a big impact on the situation in the city. We also want social responsibility from UPM, there are still people laid off at the moment and the minimum requirement from a social responsibility point of view would be that laid-off people be called back to work," Marin emphasised.
Marin said that special support measures for the Jämsä and wider Central Finland region will be included in the government’s 2021 budget negotiations, due to be held in mid-September, and added extra resources to strengthen Finnish industry and competitiveness can be found from elsewhere, citing the EU's recovery stimulus package as an example.
"When we look at the future of industry, it’s clear that we cannot stay put," the PM said. "This is also my message to UPM and to other industry players. The state is ready to work together with companies. I think it is very important that we pursue an active industrial policy."
Also speaking at the press conference, Minister Skinnari said the government's working group will begin talks aimed at finding solutions to the employment situation in Jämsä next week.
"On Monday, we will sit down with people who are interested in investing in Central Finland. Both Finnish entrepreneurs and foreign investors are involved," Skinnari said.