The Northern Forest Center has launched a new initiative to increase the quality of housing in Millinocket, Maine. Our goal is to support the community as it adapts to its new role as a gateway to the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, and as it seeks to redevelop the former Great Northern Paper mill site to create jobs in the forest economy.
Millinocket's economy declined steadily after Great Northern paper mill closed in 2008, eliminating the source of jobs that had created the town and which drove the local economy. Over the years, the town's population declined and home values plummeted, leaving blighted neighborhoods and discouraging investment in residential improvements.
Recent initiatives, including the designation of the national monument, are stimulating Millinocket's economy, yet employers and others in the community have told us there is a real need to improve the quality and condition of in-town homes available for people who want to be part of the town's renaissance.
We believe good quality housing is crucial to attract professionals to new job opportunities, to provide seasonal rentals for workers in the recreational industry as it grows, and to complement revitalization activities downtown and at the former mill site. Our program will also ensure that at least some of Millinocket's vacant housing will be quickly renovated and available, rather than caught up in any rise in real estate speculation.
"We’re glad that the Northern Forest Center is here and helping fix up these homes. It’s nice to know that our work as contractors is recognized and appreciated by them. It feels good to be part of something positive that will help the community."
The Center aims to raise one million dollars in capital to acquire, renovate and manage up to 10 properties in downtown Millinocket. We own 6 properties including 3 multi-unit properties and 3 single family homes. Property renovations will be completed at 2 homes this Spring, while 2 other properties are currently rented with limited renovation required. The rentals will be fully renovated in the future.
Improvements from renovations are easy to see with construction underway. Contractors have helped take down walls to create open-concept floor plans, install recessed lighting, and build backyard decks.
News coverage of the Millinocket Housing Initiative
Other work in Millinocket
The Millinocket Housing Initiative builds on the Center's other projects in Millinocket, which include:
- Regional facilitation and coordination of Maine Woods Destination Tourism Development
- Facilitation of small grants to 10 local businesses to support Destination Tourism Development
- Technical assistance to home/business owners transitioning to local, renewable heat
- Technical assistance of innovation services to wood products manufacturers
- Investment in Wi-Fi Hot Spot for Penobscot Ave.
- Technical assistance to support downtown revitalization and mill site redevelopment
The Millinocket Housing Initiative is part of the Center's increased focus on community development activities in the Maine Woods, which complements our regional programs to advance innovation in the forest economy to create jobs, leverage investment and conserve working forests.