The $418 million investment in new specialty paper products will double output, support 1,000 contractor jobs
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) applauded the announcement of a $418 million investment from Sappi North America, Inc. at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan. The significant investment will help the mill convert Paper Machine No. 2 to diversify its specialty product line and double its production capacity. Construction of the expansion is expected to support 1,000 contractor jobs across Maine.
“The forest products industry is a vital part of our state’s economy and identity, particularly in rural communities,” said Senators Collins and King. “As the industry embraces new opportunities, it’s essential that companies make the necessary investments to evolve with the market and secure long-term success. Sappi has done just that with their recent upgrades at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, which supports hundreds of Maine jobs. This investment will help Sappi reach new customers, support their hard-working employees, and keep the local economy strong. We are excited about this upcoming project and look forward to working alongside Sappi and other state leaders to find new opportunities and markets for Maine’s forest products industry.”
“This move complements our long-term Thrive25 strategy, which focuses on growing our portfolio in packaging and specialty papers, pulp and biomaterials,” said Mike Haws, President and CEO of Sappi North America. “By investing in our business to pursue growing areas of demand, we can remain profitable and competitive in the global marketplace”
With this investment, Sappi will convert its Paper Machine No. 2 from a mix of coated wood-free graphics paper and coated one-sided label papers to solid bleached sulphate (SBS) board. The machine capacity will increase from 235,000 metric tons to 470,000 metric tons per year. The project will be phased in and is expected to be completed in early 2025. Currently, the Somerset Mill supports approximately 800 jobs in Skowhegan and 1,300 jobs in Maine.
Senators Collins and King are 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 recommendations to grow Maine’s forest economy through five priorities.
This investment follows another big announcement last week, from LP Houlton, regarding a $400 million investment into Maine’s forest economy.