The director of industrial site development for the project said he’s optimistic it will create jobs in the area.
MILLINOCKET, Maine — To bring back business that once helped Millinocket thrive, the nonprofit Our Katahdin announced its newest development for One North, formerly known as the Great Northern Paper Mill.
According to Our Katahdin, the organization will aim to diversify the site while still maintaining a core industry of wood producers. Our Katahdin said the site would focus on producing much-desired wood pellets and processing biomass from neighboring sites across the state.
“We want to find the highest and best use of every single aspect of that wood. And so we’re hoping this can be an anchor, that will attract other related businesses,” Our Katahdin President Sean DeWitt said.
To support production, nearby railways will also need improvements, which the group hopes to fund through the Maine Department of Transportation’s CRISI grant.
The group mentioned that although they are confident they will receive funding from the grant, they are still awaiting to hear the results from the Federal Railroad Administration.
“Our plan is to reestablish that spur, rebuild it in places that need to be maintained and then expand to the greenfield, that’s about a ten thousand foot expansion of track,” Steve Sanders, director of industrial site development for One North, said.
According to Sanders, the project has already gained attention from out of state, with a company out of Arkansas agreeing to collaborate on the Millinocket campus. He is optimistic the project and collaboration alike will be good news for creating jobs.
“A pellet plant of this size is a major capital expenditure. It would create over one hundred full-time jobs when it’s operating,” Sanders explained.
DeWitt said the shared opinion he’s come across is that although the project is a big feat, it is a much-needed change in the community.
“Our hope is this can provide jobs to the … greater Katahdin region, but also help to bring our families home,” DeWitt said.
If all goes smoothly, the Forest Products Campus and railways are expected to be operational by 2026.