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Feds Give $2M Boost to Maine's Effort to Redevelop Former Navy Base
10/22/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

The former Brunswick Naval Air Station is getting a lift - in the form of two federal grants worth more than $2 million. An application by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority in Brunswick, and Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc., is one of 11 nationwide winners of the Make it in America Challenge. As A.J. Higgins reports, the money will be used to renovate the massive Building 250 at Brunswick Landing, and to assist in worker retraining.

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The new $2 million grant arrives at a time when Brunswick Landing is working with Southern Maine Community College to create a complex that can not only attract new jobs, but also train the workers who will fill them.

Jeffrey Jordan, the deputy director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, says his organization partnered with 15 other agencies to apply for the grant that will be used to create Techplace, an incubator for new businesses.

Jordan says about $750,000 from the federal Economic Development Administration will be channeled into a former aircraft repair facility that he says is a perfect candidate for renovation.

"It's a 95,000-square-foot building that is broken up into small workshops and laboratories, water, three-phased power, separate entrances and large doors that go out to the exterior," Jordan says, "and some of the facilities are actually served by heavy cranes. It really is begging to be redeveloped."

The rest of the money - $1.3 million from the federal Department of Labor - was awarded to Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc., and will be used to provide customized skills training for manufacturing jobs for careers in the mid-coast region.

Connecting workers with new jobs at Brunswick Landing is a primary goal for the authority. Jordan says the EDA grant will really allow his agency to finish off Building 250.

'It provides grant money into addressing some of the ADA compliance issues and life safety issues and some of the cosmetic issues, to literally make this a turn-key operation in a relatively short period of time," Jordan says.

In a joint statement, members of Maine's congressional delegation said the two grants will provide an important catalyst for innovation, build upon the ongoing economic redevelopment efforts in the area, and provide critical support for growing regional manufacturing sectors in composites, aviation and aerospace, alternative energy and biotechnology.


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