Advertisement

Two rural Maine mills reopening after receiving grants

What’s old is new again in two Maine towns thanks to a pair of grants that are reviving key pieces in the forest economy.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 8:35 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) - What’s old is new again in two Maine towns thanks to a pair of grants that are reviving key pieces in the forest economy.

We all know that money doesn’t grow on trees, but recent investments in rural Maine are bringing hope that, once again, money will come from trees.

“It’s bringing back to our shores the manufacturing of a pretty common product that we’re currently importing overseas,” said Joe Short.

Short is the Vice President of Northern Forest Center, which granted a combined more than $650,000 to revive dormant mills in Bingham and East Millinocket.

“Recreating these lost jobs is huge,” said Executive Director, Somerset Economic Development Corporation Redeveloping Christian Savage. “Redeveloping this former mill site is huge, and we’re actually introducing a new product to North America in this plywood. It’s creating a new product. It’s creating new demand locally for loggers, and it’s going to put a lot of people to work.”

An impact felt far beyond the mill itself.

“We could be looking at another 400-600 indirect jobs. That could be through loggers, trucking, hospitality,” said Savage.

East Millinocket Selectman Mike Michaud says the town was built around Great Northern Paper Company until its closing in 2014.

“In order for the town to have any say in its future, we have to control our own destiny,” said East Millinocket Selectman Mike Michaud. “We have 4.3 million tons of low-grade wood in Maine, so it’s a good way to use some of that.”

That wood will become biochar, a charcoal-like substance made from biomass with several agricultural uses. It all means the lights are back on at the former paper mill, an impact not lost around town.

“It actually brought tears to my eyes when someone showed me a video and the lights were on in the paper warehouse. I know a lot of people have commented how great it is to see the lights on finally. We still have a lot more work to do,” said Michaud.

Copyright 2022 WABI. All rights reserved.