The New Balance factory on Walnut Street in Skowhegan is framed by a Christmas decoration Wednesday. The footwear company announced this week a $65 million expansion of the factory that would result in the creation of 200 jobs. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — New Balance is planning a $65 million expansion of its manufacturing center on Walnut Street and anticipates creating about 200 jobs in the next couple of years, town officials were told Tuesday.

John Campbell, the company’s vice president of corporate services, said in a presentation to selectmen that consumer demand for New Balance footwear is driving the expansion and that the company hopes to begin construction on a 120,000-square-foot manufacturing addition in May and then move in by August 2024.

Renovations of the mill building that are part of the project would then begin, covering about 20,000 square feet, and be completed by the end of 2024, Campbell said. The $65 million investment would include capital equipment in addition to construction costs.

New Balance has owned the Skowhegan facility for over 40 years and approximately 250 people are employed there now.

The New Balance factory, at left in background, is framed Wednesday by the drive-thru lanes of the former Skowhegan Savings Bank, which would be demolished as part of expansion plans by New Balance. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The expansion would double the manufacturing output of New Balance, allowing it to make over 1 million pairs of shoes each year at the facility.

“In our 116-year history, we have never taken on a manufacturing project as strategic, instrumental and with as much investment,” Campbell told selectmen. “And we’ve decided to do it here in Skowhegan, if we can make this work.”


The plant is one of five manufacturing facilities New Balance has in New England. The others in Maine are in Norridgewock and Norway, and then there are two in Massachusetts: Lawrence and Methuen. The factory in Methuen opened in March.

Skowhegan Selectman Steven Govoni noted Tuesday that the expansion announcement is just the latest economic spark for the town.

“In the next three years there’s about $300 million worth of investment happening in Skowhegan,” Govoni said. “We haven’t seen this type of growth since 1901 (when the downtown was being built out in the years before World War I).”

Among other notable projects that are ongoing is the Skowhegan River Park, which will improve recreational opportunities along the Kennebec River downtown with a riverside promenade, enhanced whitewater for kayaking and a trail network. The project received $2 million in federal funding back in March.

Meanwhile, developer High Tide Capital is moving forward with a $15 million renovation of the former Solon Manufacturing mill on the island downtown. That mill previously housed the Maine Spinning Co. but has been vacant since 2005.

The 80,000-square-foot mill, which at its peak from the 1940s to the 1970s produced up to 2 million pounds of yarn, will feature 44 apartments, a hotel called The Skowhegan and become the new home of Bigelow Brewing Co.


The timeline for renovating that mill is expected to be similar to the one for New Balance, with work concluding by the end of 2024.

New Balance has purchased adjacent properties, including the former Skowhegan Savings Bank, that will be needed for the expansion plans, such as to provide additional parking.

New Balance is planning a $65 million expansion of its manufacturing facility in Skowhegan. The rendering shows what the proposed new wing of the mill would look like. About 200 jobs would be added as part of the plan and the company could double its capability, resulting in the annual production of more than 1 million pairs of shoes. Photo courtesy of New Balance

The original mill building was constructed in the 1880s for about $24,000 and was intended to lure a shoe manufacturer to the area. Abner Coburn, the Skowhegan native who would become president of Maine Central Railroad and governor of Maine, was instrumental in getting the mill built.

Several shoe manufacturers occupied the mill over the years, with New Balance purchasing it in 1981.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Thursday, Dec. 15, with the number of manufacturing facilities New Balance has in New England.

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