The former holdings of the Great Northern Paper Co. in Millinocket have been sold to a local nonprofit for the princely sum of $1.
Organizers involved with the redevelopment of the acreage say they are confident that they can bring jobs back to an area hard-hit by shuttered paper mills.
Our Katahdin, a local nonprofit dedicated to community and economic development in the Millinocket area, will now oversee the redevelopment of the former GNP mill and its 1,400 acres. Michael Madore, chairman of the Millinocket Town Council, says the acquisition marks a turning point for the community.
“By Our Kathadin partnering with the town of Millinocket to acquire the mill site, gives us finally control over our own ability to move forward,” Madore says. “We’re not depending on any given company, any conglomerate, any financial group or anything else. We now have an active part in taking our own financial security into our own hands and move it forward as we envision it to go.”
Madore says Our Katahdin would like to convert the site into a bio-industrial park, and the town council is assisting the effort by waiving some of the $164,000 in back taxes owed in exchange for some land. Madore says the council also voted to delay a foreclosure auction on the properties for six months to provide time to resolve remaining tax liabilities.
The IRS has a tax lien on the mill property of nearly $1.5 million.
Our Katahdin, meanwhile, is exploring opportunities for federal grant funding of the redevelopment effort, with help from Sean DeWitt, a Millinocket native who is the director at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C. Madore says, DeWitt is one of several skilled volunteers within the group.
“We have a man who is an investment banker, we have a gentleman who writes million-dollar grants, we have electrical engineers, we have civil engineers, one gentleman has run a multimillion dollar nonprofit organization himself, and these men are still in their 30s,” he says. “We got lucky in the town of Millinocket and the fact that these guys have volunteered their time and their efforts to come back and help because they love their hometown so much.”
Madore says he expects that it could take six months to a year to reach a point where the property is being actively marketed. But he says the community has already received some inquiries from prospective developers.