HANTSPORT, N.S. -- The impending closure of the Minas Basin Pulp and Power paper mill will be a huge loss, the town's newly elected mayor said Friday.

Rob Zwicker, who will be sworn into office next week, said the plant was a staple in the community of 1,160 and Thursday's announcement that the 85-year-old operation will shut down in December was a surprise.

"It's deeply entrenched in the community and it comes as quite a shock and quite a loss, especially for the employees and their families," Zwicker said in an interview.

The company has said 135 people will lose their jobs, though more than 40 will be given employment elsewhere within its operations.

Zwicker, who works for the mill's sister company CKF Inc., said the town's revenues would take a significant hit.

"The taxes that Minas pays are approximately 10 per cent of the overall operating town budget, so when you start playing with big percentages like that it's going to have an effect on the community."

The mill has not asked for provincial help, saying no amount of money would make it a viable operation in the current market climate.

Zwicker said it's up to the town to explore new opportunities to try to fill the economic gap.

He said the town is vying to land a new provincial data centre and has answered a provincial request for proposal.

"We are not ready to hang our heads and call it a day," Zwicker said. "I think it's just heightened our need to really step up to this new challenge."

Premier Darrell Dexter has said Labour Department programs aimed at helping laid off workers transition into new jobs will be offered by the province.