SKOWHEGAN, Maine — To invest in the future of Maine's pulp and logging industry, Sappi's Somerset Mill in Skowhegan is moving forward with an expansion on one of its mills.
Mill number two will be converted to both increase its capacity and produce solid, bleached sulfate board products, a $418 million investment.
Sean Wallace, managing director at the mill, said the switch is in response to the packaging industry's lean towards eco-friendly products like paper rather than plastic.
"Historically this mill has made graphics papers or coated papers that are used in magazines and catalogs," Wallace said. "Over the past several years, the demand for these products has declined."
According to Wallace, with this new mill, the company will be able to produce products that can then be turned into paper boxes or soup labels.
"This really allows us to maintain our cost competitiveness and secure the long-term future of the mill," Wallace said.
Leaders around Maine have celebrated the announcement, with Gov. Janet Mills saying the investment will "support the lives and livelihoods of people in Skowhegan, the surrounding region, and the state."
Professional Logging Contractors of Maine also welcomed the expansion, anticipating the trickle-down for contractors in the near future.
"Seventy to 75 percent of those jobs that will be created are going to be with Maine contractors, and that's a good sign," Executive Director Dana Doran said.
The mill plans to have the expansion finished by April 2025.