AUGUSTA – A bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to create a tax credit to support Twin Rivers Paper Company received a public hearing before the Taxation Committee on Thursday.
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 roughly 100 years the Madawaska paper mill — now known as Twin Rivers — has been a staple of the economy in the St. John Valley. The mill has been a source of good-paying jobs for countless residents of the area who have used their hard-earned money to provide for themselves and their families,” said President Jackson. “This bill is aimed at supporting and shoring up not only Twin Rivers but other paper mills in our state who are willing to treat their workers fairly and make key investments for long-term sustainability and growth.”
Twin Rivers employs over 430 direct employees with an additional 300 indirect and 1,200 induced jobs, for a total jobs impact of around 2,000 jobs in northern Maine. The average compensation for workers at the mill is $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.
“With the creation of innovative, environmentally conscious paper products, Twin Rivers is positioned to be a strong leader in the global forest products industry well into the 21st century,” said Brian McAlary, Vice President of Business Development at Twin Rivers. “This tax credit will give us the necessary partnership with the state to overcome unique obstacles we have faced and thrive into the future. I want to thank President Jackson for bringing this proposal forward.”
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 into their number eight paper machine that would increase production of new products and increase profitability.
The proposal requires the participating company 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.
The bill will face further work in committee in the coming week.