EAST MILLINOCKET – Maine Senate President Kevin Raye (R-Perry) and Senator Doug Thomas (R-Ripley) visited the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket on Tuesday, June 5th, where they toured the mill and met with representatives of Cate Street Capital. Raye and Thomas also visited for a first-hand look at the site on the campus of the closed Millinocket mill where Thermogen Industries plans to create jobs manufacturing torrefied wood pellets.
The Thermogen proposal received a boost in May when Raye and Thomas successfully included an amendment to the state budget that makes the project eligible for participation in Maine’s New Markets Capital Investment Program (NMCIP). Raye sponsored the law establishing the New Markets tax credit last year, in an effort to encourage private sector investment in job creation in areas of Maine that have been left behind economically.
The amendment pushed by Raye and Thomas this year increased the cap for the program from $10 million to $40 million, which will encourage Cate Street Capital to make an investment in the project through its Thermogen Industries subsidiary.
“Cate Street really did create a dual opportunity,” said Senator Thomas. “Making use of the idled Millinocket paper mill property as a wood-product manufacturing facility is a great idea, a natural fit, and a boost to a town sorely in need of new jobs,” said Senator Thomas. “It’s also a boost to Maine port towns where these wood products will be shipped overseas.”
“The New Markets Tax Credit is designed to boost the economy in areas of greatest need,” said Raye. “That’s why I introduced it, and it is exciting to see it hold such great promise for the Katahdin Region, which has been hit so hard by the loss of traditional paper-making jobs. We need to do everything we can to encourage quality jobs and ensure a bright future for rural Maine.”
The Senators were greeted in East Millinocket by Richard Cyr, CEO and President of Great Northern Paper (GNP) and Thermogen, and COO of Cate Street Capital. Everett O’Neill, GNP’s Vice President of Operations and Manufacturing, took Raye and Thomas on a tour of the East Millinocket mill, and then the Senators visited Millinocket with Cyr and other company officials.
“Those of us who live and work in rural Maine have seen so many manufacturing plants idled and wasting away,” said Senator Raye. “The New Markets Tax Credit and other steps we have taken to make Maine more jobs-friendly are making a difference as we look to the future.”