ASHLAND, Maine — A new sawmill in central Aroostook County is predicted to translate into 60 permanent jobs according to officials with J.D. Irving, Ltd., which announced Monday plans to invest $30 million into a state-of-the-art softwood facility.

An additional 50 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the project, according to Monday’s release.

“We are committed to growing jobs and opportunities in Maine,” said Gaston Poitras, Irving’s vice president of sawmills. “This new mill at Ashland will deliver new jobs and the best technology for the workers, and will be sustained by a wood supply from Maine producers.”

The round wood log supply for the new sawmill will come from the company’s woodlands in Maine as well as other woodlot and timberland owners in the state.

“We look forward to serving valued customers through the U.S. northeast with quality, certified lumber,” Poitras said.

Construction is slated to begin this year with a projected completion date and opening next spring or summer.

Biomass boilers, dry kilns and a planer mill are among the plans for the new facility.

The current Irving-owned mill on the site closed in 2008 and the construction plans will expand and modernize the existing facility.

The company chose to make the $30 million investment in northern Maine due to “a great local workforce to draw on, a quality, sustainable wood supply and good transportation links,” Mary Keith, Irving’s vice president of communications, said Monday afternoon.

Softwood lumber produced at the mill will be destined for major retail lumber yards on the East Coast, according to the release, and will be environmentally certified under the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative programs.

“This is the kind of news we like to see in the state of Maine, a good company expanding and creating quality jobs for Maine people,” said Gov. Paul R. LePage in the release. “Maine is open for business and we will continue our efforts to make Maine as competitive as possible for private investment and job growth.”

Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash and Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton also issued separate press releases on Monday praising the news.

“This is a good example of how in Maine we should be doing everything we can to capitalize on our natural resources, process our resources here and buy our made-in-Maine products,” said Jackson, a logger by trade. “There’s nothing more American than buying what you or your neighbor makes.”

Jackson added, “It was great to learn these jobs will be union jobs. A commitment to union jobs is a commitment to good-paying, safe jobs.”

Willette said in his release that residents of The County have “faced economic setbacks that pre-date the recession, and what we need is a permanent pattern of industry to move in and provide economic stability in the region. These jobs represent that type of development, with manufacturing linked to our vast natural resources.”

Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.