MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) Senator Angus King visited the Katahdin region today with business on his mind.
He visited a few local shops and got a chance to tour the old mill site in Millinocket.
"It's just a little bit of a ray of positive hope. That's what I think everybody's looking for."
That's what Senator Angus King is hoping to help bring to the Katahdin region, particularly to downtown Millinocket.
Shop owners welcome the support.
"We're thrilled to have him here. He's been deeply interested in the fate of this region since the mill started closing and since before that when he was governor trying to keep them open."
Even with the hardships the town of Millinocket has faced, you're now seeing shops pop up and the town itself is ready to move forward.
"It's a leap of faith being in the retail business in Millinocket right now, but we believe in the long run it's going to pay off."
That leap of faith is what King hopes the region will continue to have.
Especially, when it comes to the former Great Northern Paper site.
"It's a wonderful site. We've got high speed internet. We've got electricity available. We've got all the wonderful people that are in this region, so what I'm looking at and will be talking to the people at Our Katahdin is how do we bring in a diversity of economic opportunity there. I think one thing we've all learned is that maybe 10, 50 person operation is better than a 500 person operation because you're not so dependent."
King says the new developments in town are just a stepping stone to where the region needs to be.
And with new business owners like Tom Schafer from Maine Heritage Timber, he plans to use all the region has to offer.
"The mills were here. We have the opportunity to have this glut of wood that we only use a reclaim product here. It's all wood that was left over from the river drives. Sure, we could haul this wood to New York and have our manufacture facility there. We just felt that it doesn't really work with the story. The story is, wood from here should be manufactured here."
Our Katahdin is currently in talks with potential investors.
Their plan is to keep Maine's forestry industry alive.
Something King can agree with.
"I always carry with me a brochure about this mill site and what its potential use is. So, I'm always ready to sell Maine and try to promote what we have here."