Officials at Sappi North America say the $418 million expansion at Somerset Mill in Skowhegan is moving along as scheduled. The project, which is expected to support about 1,000 construction jobs, is set to be completed in early 2025. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — Sappi North America’s $418 million expansion of its Somerset Mill in Skowhegan is continuing on schedule, the company says.

In a social media post on April 17, Sappi said it is making “excellent progress” on Project Elevate, the conversion and expansion of its No. 2 paper machine at the mill.

“Although normal operations at the mill are continuing during the project and there are hundreds of contractors on site, we have experienced zero lost-time injuries and the work is progressing on schedule,” the post said.

When the project was announced in 2022, the company estimated that it would be completed in early 2025. That is still the projected timeline, according to Peter Steele, senior manager of corporate communications for Sappi North America.

The Boston-based company announced in November 2022 that it was investing millions to increase capacity on the machine to produce solid bleached sulfate paperboard products. The material, which Sappi says is “premium and sustainable,” is used for packaging across several industries. Its No. 1 paper machine previously underwent a similar conversion.

The switch is part of the company’s efforts to reduce its reliance on other paper products, Sappi officials said when they announced the project.


Video posted this week shows workers installing an 80-ton bridge crane that will be used for production of the paperboard.

The $418 million project was expected to support about 1,000 construction jobs, officials said when it was announced.

The mill employs about 754 people, according to Sappi’s website. When complete, the expansion will also add a “modest” number of new jobs. Steele did not provide an exact number of the new jobs anticipated.

Sappi is already one of the Skowhegan area’s main employers, and its expansion will further its economic impact on the region, said Kristina Cannon, president and CEO of Main Street Skowhegan, a nonprofit working to revitalize Skowhegan’s economy.

During construction, local businesses have felt the impact of having workers staying the area, Cannon said. But the real benefits will be years in the making, she said.

“The construction alone brings new employees to the region,” Cannon said. “But this paper machine is going to ensure Sappi’s long-term impact on Somerset County.”


Sappi North America, a subsidiary of an international company, employs about 2,100 people at its four mills, technology center, service center, and sheeting facilities in the U.S. and Quebec, according to its website. In addition to the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, Sappi operates mills in Westbrook; Cloquet, Minnesota; and Matane, Quebec.

The investment at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan will set it up for long-term success, officials say. “The construction alone brings new employees to the region,” said Kristina Cannon, president and CEO of Main Street Skowhegan. “But this paper machine is going to ensure Sappi’s long-term impact on Somerset County.” Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Sappi’s expansion comes as Maine’s forest products industry has seen change — both positive and negative — in recent years, as companies respond to changing demands from consumers.

In Madison last year, TimberHP brought back manufacturing to the Madison Paper Industries mill that closed in 2016. TimberHP produces wood fiber insulation and expects to employ more than 100 people when its facility is completed.

In Jay, a company that manufactures a product similar to particleboard announced in March its plans to reopen the former Androscoggin Mill, bringing 125 jobs back to the town. The mill, previously owned by Pixelle Specialty Solutions, stopped producing paper in March 2023.

Later that month, ND Paper in Rumford announced it planned to temporarily shut down one of its papermaking machines due to “market-related downtime,” the Sun Journal reported. The shutdown affected about 100 workers.

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