SKOWHEGAN — Sappi Fine Paper North America has been named the 2012 Maine Manufacturer of the Year by the Maine Forest Products Council.

Sappi is recognized for its business strategy, dedicated investment, value-added service, environmental leadership, safety performance and community involvement, the company said in a release. This is the first time Sappi has won the award.

Sappi was nominated by Plum Creek Timber Company for projects including a $60 million capital investment at the Somerset plant in Skowhegan in 2010 and 2011. The nomination also comes in light of Sappi’s renewable energy programs and its Community Connections Committee.

“We pride ourselves in our ability to consistently demonstrate best practices across manufacturing operations,” John Donahue, vice president of manufacturing, said in the release. “At Sappi, we strive to keep innovation and safety top of mind while also investing in opportunities for environmental leadership and community involvement; our strategy ensures profitable business growth for the long-term. We are honored and privileged to be named Maine Manufacturer of the Year and look forward to continuing our success in the state of Maine.”

Sappi was awarded the honor at the Maine Forest Products Council’s 52nd annual membership meeting held Sunday and Monday in Rockport.

The Maine Forest Products Council was founded in 1960. The organization’s membership ranges from landowners and loggers to truckers, paper mills and lumber processors.

Sappi Fine Paper North America is a subsidiary of Sappi Limited, a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with manufacturing operations on four continents in eight countries, sales offices in 35 countries, and customers in over 100 countries around the world.

Sappi’s Somerset mill, built in 1976, has three paper machines. The company also has a mill in Westbrook.

Of the 750 workers at the Somerset mill, 172 are salaried employees. The rest are hourly wage earners represented by four different labor unions.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

dharlow@centralmaine.com