AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature unanimously voted to advance a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, that would create a tax credit to support Twin Rivers Paper Company on Wednesday.
The amended version of the bill — LD 1713, “An Act To Increase Workforce Skills for the Revitalization of Maine’s Paper Industry through the Establishment of an Income Tax Credit for Paper Manufacturing Workforce Training” — would provide a tax credit to companies like Twin Rivers that maintain good-paying jobs and make significant capital investments to acquire, modernize or improve machinery before January 1, 2024. The credit would apply to companies that are not eligible for the New Market Tax Credit programs that currently exist.
“For generations, Maine workers have relied on paper mills, including Twin Rivers, to earn a living and provide for their families in northern Maine. Despite the hardship Twin Rivers has experienced this year, the company has committed to PFAS-free food packaging to meet the challenges of the 21st century, sustain and grow its operations in Madawaska, and ensure the future financial security of its workers and its regional community. This bill would create a tax credit to support good-paying jobs in the forest products industry and facilitate these types of longterm investments in Maine,” said President Jackson. “Twin Rivers is in a unique position to be a leader in the forest products industry by creating innovative, environmentally conscious paper products in our state. I’m excited about the impact a bill like this could have in Aroostook County and look forward to passing it into law.”
Twin Rivers directly employs more than 430 employees. However, the mill has a greater impact on jobs throughout the region, supporting an additional indirect 300 jobs and 1,200 induced jobs. As a result, an estimated 2,000 jobs in northern Maine depend on the mill’s success. Mill workers earn an average wage of $83,730, a number that outpaces the average compensation in the state’s paper sector and is nearly double the average wage among all Maine occupations.
In the past, Twin Rivers has relied on the Madawaska-Edmundston International bridge as a major artery of transportation. However, the bridge’s condition since 2017 has forced the company to re-route trucks through Van Buren — adding extra miles to the trip and costing the company millions of additional dollars in transportation costs. Twin Rivers also has to incur additional costs to relocate pipes from the current International Bridge to another structure across the St. John River. These costs have caused the company to put off a multi-million dollar investment into their number eight paper machine that would increase production of new products and increase profitability.
The proposal requires the participating company to make qualifying investments of at least $15 million to acquire, modernize or improve machinery before January 1, 2024, and employ at least 400 employees at a paper manufacturing facility in the state. The company must also be located in an area with high unemployment that is not a low-income community that qualifies under the federal new markets tax credit program or the Maine new markets capital investment credit.
LD 1713 faces additional procedural votes in the Maine Legislature before going to the governor’s desk.