The revival of the Old Town mill was celebrated last week, with a grand reopening held.

The event was put on by ND Paper, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper Limited, which bought the mill nearly a year ago. Among those attending the invitation-only event were Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King, Representative Jared Golden, and Commercial Counselor of the Consulate General of China in New York Chunfang Gu, as well as other state legislators, city officials, customers, and vendors/

“Maine’s forest economy has long played a vital role in our state, and we applaud the investments that ND Paper is making in the Old Town Mill to create jobs and to further support rural communities,” said Senator Collins, Senator King and Representative Golden in a joint statement. “By building on and updating one of Maine’s most historic manufacturing sites, ND Paper is investing in Maine’s forest economy and in our talented workforce. We will continue to work together with industry and community leaders to help revitalize our forest products industry for generations to come.”

The mill had been closed since 2015, when former owner Expera abruptly shuttered the property. At one time it was feared the property would be liquidated and sold for scrap, but city and state officials and private industry worked to find a new buyer; ND Paper acquired the mill from OTM Holdings LLC last October.

Work to restart the facility began immediately upon the closing of the transaction. With its team of 130 full-time employees that were chosen from a field of more than 1,000 applicants, the mill is expected to ramp to an expected production rate of approximately 150,000 air dried metric tons per year (admtpy) of unbleached softwood kraft pulp.  A second round of investment will occur within two years and increase production to a target of 270,000 admtpy. ND Paper reportedly has invested more than $45 million to date into the Old Town mill.

“After countless hours of inspections, planning, equipment repairs, building improvements, and just plain hard work, we’re finally able to realize this vision coming to fruition,” commented Ken Liu, Group Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “I cannot think of a better way to convey our sincere thanks to all of our supporters than to say it in person; this event is an expression of that gratitude.”

“Maine’s forest products industry has powered our economy, employed our people, and shaped our communities for generations,” added Governor Janet Mills. “On behalf of the State of Maine, I welcome the reopening of this pulp mill and thank ND Paper for their investment in our state, which will result in 130 good-paying jobs for Maine people. Under my Administration, Maine will continue to welcome new investments like this that create jobs, help revitalize rural communities, and support environmental sustainability as industries continue to adapt and succeed in today’s changing economy.”

In addition to the 130 direct jobs at the mill, it has been estimated that the indirect (vendor supply chain) sales for Maine businesses support the equivalent of 545 jobs earning an income of $27.8 million. The estimated induced (employee spending) impact will be additional sales for Maine businesses supporting the equivalent of 255 jobs earning an income of $10.9 million, meaning a total estimated job impact that will be the equivalent of 930 jobs for the state of Maine.

The mill has changed hands numerous times over the years, and while some might be pessimistic that its reopening will be short-lived, the general consensus around the community has been that ND Paper has plans to operate in Old town for the long term. In addition to the investments made at the property, ND Paper already has been active in community affairs, such as sponsoring sports teams; at the reopening ceremony, the company presented the city with 100 trees to plant.

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