Corinth Pellets to undergo $7M upgrade, add 18 jobs

In this February 2014 file photo, raw material processing equipment is shown at the Corinth Wood Pellets in Corinth.
In this February 2014 file photo, raw material processing equipment is shown at the Corinth Wood Pellets in Corinth. Buy Photo
Posted March 19, 2014, at 11:29 a.m.
Last modified March 19, 2014, at 9:57 p.m.
In this February 2014 file photo, a forklift loads a truck at Corinth Wood Pellets in Corinth.
In this February 2014 file photo, a forklift loads a truck at Corinth Wood Pellets in Corinth. Buy Photo
In this February 2014 file photo, wood pellets produced are shown at Corinth Wood Pellets in Corinth.
In this February 2014 file photo, wood pellets produced are shown at Corinth Wood Pellets in Corinth. Buy Photo

CORINTH, Maine — A local pellet mill will add 18 new jobs as part of a $7 million upgrade aided by state economic development initiatives, officials said Wednesday.

The improvements are described as “major work” on the Corinth Pellets Manufacturing LLC facility, which has been in business since 2007. The jobs will be added over the next two years, Corinth Pellets Chief Financial Officer Ken Carle said.

“Corinth Pellets is an excellent example of how a staple Maine industry can thrive when provided with the tools to be competitive,” Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement. “Government does not create jobs, but it can create an environment where businesses can thrive. As a result of Corinth Pellets’ investment, more Mainers will be put to work, and our overall economy will prosper.”

“It’s a Pine Tree Zone certification,” Carle said. The designation grants the company a sales-tax exemption for 10 years, among other things, and put the improvements on a much faster timeline, Carle said.

The $7 million self-investment “puts jobs into the local economy, keeps manufacturing in the State of Maine and helps keep the forest products industry rolling,” Carle said. “There are a lot of forest products production facilities that shutting down, scaling back or leaving the state. We’re bucking the trend.”

Corinth Town Manager Travis Gold, who was unaware of Corinth Pellets’ plans, said the investment is “great news.

“It is good for Corinth and the surrounding areas. I look forward to it,” Gold said. “They have been struggling on and off but this year the price of pellets increased dramatically. They have new owners and I think they are looking to invest in the community.”

The Carrier family of E.J Carrier Inc., a trucking and forest products industry company in Jackman, bought the pellet mill in December, Carle said. He declined to disclose the price. The new owners increased the company’s payroll from four to 26 employees soon after, he said.

The company uses about 70,000 tons annually of sawdust, shavings and waste wood from sawmills around the state, plus some biomass, to make pellets for home-heating and industrial pellet stoves, Carle said.

Most economists figure that four to six secondary jobs are created by every new job added to a manufacturing facility. When the mill opened in 2007, it was slated to produce about 140,000 tons of wood pellets per year for North American and European customers.

Gould identified Emera Maine and Corinth Pellets as Corinth’s top two taxpayers. Emera paid $40,817 and Corinth paid $26,532 in real estate and personal property taxes this year, he said.

The company’s next project, Carle said, is to work with Emera Maine to see if the company can cut its electricity costs substantially by plugging into a power line that runs near the company’s property.

The connection would allow the company to forego substantial transmission costs incurred by the present arrangement.

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