WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) applauded the announcement from Sappi North America, Inc. that the company has completed an investment project at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan. The investment of more than $200 million will help the mill diversify its manufacturing line by expanding into paperboard packaging, while retaining its leadership position in the graphic paper market. The mill will now have an annual production capacity of almost one million tons per year. The Somerset Mill supports approximately 800 jobs in Skowhegan
, and 1,300 jobs in Maine.
“The forest products industry continues to be a vital part of our state’s economy, particularly in rural communities,” said Senators Collins and King. “It is critical that companies make long-term investments and pursue forward-thinking strategies to respond to changing market demands. Sappi has done just that with their recent investment and upgrades at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, which supports hundreds of jobs across Maine. We are thrilled by the completion of this project and look forward to working alongside Sappi and other community and industry leaders to find new market opportunities for Maine’s forest-products industry to thrive.”
Senators Collins and King have been strong supporters of Maine’s forest economy. In 2016, they called on the U.S. Department of Commerce to establish the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT), which would work across agencies and sectors to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. The creation of the EDAT and subsequent federal funding from the EDA and U.S. Forest Service established the 2018 FOR/Maine Initiative, an industry-led effort that released the following recommendations earlier this week to grow Maine’s forest economy:
· Invest, Innovate, Grow - Sustain and grow Maine’s existing and emerging forest products economy.
· Manage Sustainably - Manage the wood resource using sustainable and responsible forest management practices.
· Develop Workforce - Prepare workforce for the future of the forest products economy.
· Support Communities - Increase prosperity in Maine forest economy communities, especially those in rural areas and those affected by mill closures.
· Coordinate & Persist - Organize the forest products industry with committed public sector partners, including the University of Maine, to implement the vision and goals.