Mass Timber Mills Coming to Maine — but where and when?

The mass timber supply chain is coming to New England but where and when, exactly, remains an open question. In February of this year, two companies announced they would be opening cross-laminated timber (CLT) factories in Maine within eighteen to twenty-four months. SmartLam, LLC of Montana committed to announcing a mill site as did North Carolina-based LignaTerra Global. LignaTerra, working closely with the on-the-ground economic development organization Our Katahdin, has indicated it may locate within or near shuttered paper mills in Millinocket, helping to revive the local forest products economy.

Both companies would take advantage of the considerable spruce-fir resource in Maine, found to be suitable for CLT manufacture and construction and already supported by a regional logging and milling industry.

But neither has announced exactly where they will locate these facilities and when they will break ground.

Each indicates that strong demand is driving their decision. SmartLam has considered construction of a second plant in its Columbia Falls, MT location to be able to fill orders for CLT across the country, and says the decision to locate in Maine came as a response to a growing number of inquiries from the U.S. Northeast.

We hope to hear the Maine announcements soon, knowing that the companies will start to generate mass timber expertise and a new supply chain for wood fiber in New England that brings value to our region’s forests. Stay tuned.


“Plywood on steroids” in Maine’s lumber industry

Like plywood on steroids, cross-laminated timber (CLT) is getting much deserved attention in Maine. Christina Erne from WLBZ toured the laboratories at University of Maine Orono where CLT is stress tested under thousands of pounds. The CLT was made from local Maine spruce, pine, and fir species.

Nicholas Willey, a graduate research assistant for the project talked about why CLT is studied and used. Willey said, “Well it’s a renewable resource. Green energy is where we’re going and we want to reduce carbon emissions and this is a structural material that can help do that.”

Bill Davids, professor and chair of the university’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, spoke confidently on the future of CLT in Maine. “My hope really is that this gets commercialized in Maine. We use Maine woods to make this product and add value to it. We’d like to see a CLT plant here in Maine where it adds jobs and ultimately we want to improve the economy,” said Davids.

Watch the full video of the lab and interviews with WLBZ and read more!