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Updated: June 8, 2023

Skowhegan in the spotlight with $65M New Balance expansion

New Balance factory Courtesy / New Balance New Balance's Skowhegan factory (at right) will be joined by a 120,000-square-foot addition by late 2024.

New Balance, which has three factories in Maine, broke ground this week on its 120,000-square-foot, $65 million addition to its Skowhegan manufacturing site. 

The Boston-based manufacturer, which has annual sales of $5.3 billion, relies on factories in Skowhegan, Norridgewock and Norway (as well as two sites in Massachusetts) to produce shoes that can be marketed as "made in the USA," a key aspect of supplying the military. 

At Monday's groundbreaking, the executives and the owners of New Balance were joined by local, state and federal elected officials, including U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, as well as Gov. Janet Mills. Nearly everyone in attendance, including the three officials named here, were sporting New Balance sneakers.

“Manufacturing has always been at the core of our company culture,” said Joe Preston, New Balance President & CEO.  “Our Maine associates have proven that high-quality athletic footwear can be produced in the U.S. Our Skowhegan factory expansion ensures their skilled craftsmanship and dedication to continuous improvement will help us meet our significant U.S. and global consumer demand and drive future business growth.”

New Balance dates to 1906, and was acquired by Jim and Ann Davis in 1972, at the dawn of the major running boom in the United States. The brand has always been prominent at the Boston Marathon and other major sporting events. 

The existing 5-story, brick factory was acquired by New Balance in 1981. The expansion will double capacity, increasing production to 1 million pairs of shoes a year, and add 200 jobs (from 270 today), bringing the company’s Maine workforce to nearly 1,000. The Skowhegan expansion will be completed by the end of 2024.  

The expansion

The expansion will be overseen by Leonminster, Mass.-based Green Leaf Construction, which will handle design, engineering and construction.

Green Leaf managed construction of New Balance's 80,000-square-foot Methuen, Mass., factory, which opened last year. Elsewhere, Green Leaf is building sites for the HVAC supplier F.W. Webb in Presque Isle, as well as Boston and Springfield, Mass., according to its Facebook page. 

In Skowhegan, the addition of 120,000 square feet will be connected to New Balance's existing five-story factory. Plans also call for renovation of 20,000 square feet of existing space. Manufacturing operations will not be affected during the construction, which is expected to wind up by the end of next year. 

New Balance's U.S. workers prepare, cut, and mold athletic shoe materials and components and then sew, press and assemble them into the final product. For the expansion, the company plans to add addition innovations, including robotics and other technology that will save time and improve worker safety. 

Skowhegan's planned growth

The Somerset County town of Skowhegan (population 8,254) has been on a roll of late. An estimated $650 million will be invested in the area in coming months and years, according to local officials who spoke with Mainebiz earlier this spring. 

Apart from New Balance, major projects include an update of the Sappi paper mill ($418 million), a new elementary school for School Administrative District 54 ($75 million) and redevelopment of the historic Spinning Mill, which will have up to 50 apartments, a boutique hotel and brewery (with the estimated cost topping out at $15 million). 

As part of the groundbreaking ceremony this week, New Balance announced a $250,000 gift to the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program in support of the Skowhegan Area Early Childhood Education Center that will be built as part of the new MSAD 54 Margaret Chase Smith Community School.

“New Balance has always been strongly committed to the communities where our associates live and work,” says Raye Wentworth, director of domestic manufacturing at New Balance. “We’re thrilled to be able to support this important opportunity to add quality, affordable education and childcare resources for local families.”  




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