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LePage Administration Celebrates FAME Board Vote Paving Way for Major Investment in Katahdin Region
AUGUSTA – The first full-scale commercial production facility of torrefied wood in the United States is one step closer to coming to the Greater Katahdin Region of Maine. Thermogen Industries, an entity of Cate Street Capital, is planning to soon launch a torrefied wood operation in Millinocket.
“This project will position Maine as a true pioneer in a promising new industry,” said Governor Paul R. LePage who has been deeply involved in helping get this project off the ground. Last month, Governor LePage testified in support of the project during a board of director’s meeting and public hearing regarding the project.
Today, the FAME Board approved a $25 million loan guarantee under the Major Business Expansion Bond Program for Cate Street Capital. It’s the first time this program has ever been used to help finance a major project. “This is yet another example of the state partnering with industry to create an opportunity for new private investment and job creation,” said the Governor.
Industry leaders consider torrefied wood to be a clean, renewable substitute for coal. It is derived from biomass, the residual materials that remain on the forest floor as a result of logging and other timber-related activities.
“Thermogen would be a natural fit here in Millinocket and it will certainly complement the ongoing efforts at Great Northern Paper,” said Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner George Gervais.
The first Thermogen production line would create 36 new direct jobs and approximately 184 new indirect jobs. The company anticipates additional hires in the future as production increases.
Before Cate Street invested in the Millinocket region by restarting the Great Northern Paper Mill in 2011, area unemployment was a staggering 20%. According to recent data, unemployment in the region has decreased to roughly 13%. The Thermogen project will continue to reduce the rate further.
“This is the kind of economic diversification we need in Maine,” said Commissioner Gervais.
Thermogen is also planning a second torrefied wood facility in Eastport. When both are fully operational the company expects roughly 800,000 tons of product to be produced, injecting nearly $60 million in the state’s already successful $8 billion forest products industry.
###Thermogen Industries Plans to Invest $70 Million - Creating Jobs and Establishing Maine as Leader in Emerging Industry