Fact Book: Doing Business in Maine — 2017

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V O L . X X I I I N O. X V I 82 FA C T BO O K / D O I N G B U S I N E S S I N M A I N E W hen Finland-based Atol Avion announced that it would make Maine its U.S. headquarters and produce its Atol 650 amphibious airplane there, it was the latest in what has become an ongo- ing success story for the business and technology campus that has sprung up at Brunswick Landing. e site, which is about 35 min- utes north of Portland, off ers well- established aviation infrastructure, which was a powerful draw, says Paul Richards, president of Atol USA. Brunswick Landing is on the site of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, which was closed in 2011 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure pro- cess, which started in 2005. Since 2011, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority has made progress imple- menting a master plan that includes making the best use of the two 8,000- foot runways, 500,000 square feet of hangar space, control tower, terminal and other aviation infrastructure at the base. While aviation uses are only one part of the plan for repurposing the 3,200-acre site, they're a critical part. e Atol announcement was another indication of how far the former air base has come since 2005, when it was earmarked for closure. e impact of the base closing on the town of 20,000, where it had been the economic keystone since it opened in 1943, meant the loss of 6,500 jobs and a $140 million payroll. On top of it was the ripple eff ect on the community, including a vacancy rate expected to hit 10% and a loss of $14 million in rent and mortgage income. Area schools were expected to lose 10% of their students and millions in federal school aid that went with them. A comeback in the making When the last military personnel left in 2011, the planning eff ort was fi ve years along and those in the coastal town were prepared for the future, but there was still trepidation, Steve Levesque, executive director of the MRRA, says. Six years later, "We've stayed to the plan, and it's working," Levesque says. at may be an understate- ment, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Defense Communities, which serves as a knowledge base for both active defense communities and those that have been closed and are being redeveloped. "Comparing projects is tough," says Tim Ford, CEO of the organization, because each base development proj- ect is unique. ere are a lot of factors in play, such as community, environ- mental conditions and the infrastruc- ture available for reuse. " at said, since the announce- ment was made to close Brunswick NAS, it has been one of the most successful reuse eff orts in terms of the speed of redevelopment and its overall success," Ford wrote to Mainebiz in an email. A ready-made aviation sector Atol USA is a joint venture between Atol Avion and a group of U.S. investors to produce the Atol 650, a high performance, amphibious aircraft. e company will move into the Brunswick Executive Airport's 184,000-square foot Hangar Four, and eventually add 50 to 100 jobs. When it announced the plan in April, Atol said it expects to begin making deliv- eries from the Brunswick Landing facility by mid-2018. Richards, of Atol USA, says that the Navy's legacy is a world-class aviation complex in Brunswick, combined with geography that's perfect for the sleek aircraft, with the Androscoggin River, Casco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean all a short distance from the runway. Atol joins a host of aviation com- panies at Brunswick Landing: One Aviation, Tempus Jets, Flight Level Aviation, MVP Aero, Brunswick Aviation Services and Maine Coastal Flight. Along with runways and hangar space, Brunswick Executive Airport has 100 acres of taxiways and aircraft parking apron space, an advanced glycol recovery de-icing system, jet engine test and maintenance facilities and a new instrument landing system. Richards says another big factor is the work the MRRA has done on the complex, including the availability of composites technology, necessary to producing the aircraft. " at was important to us," he says. A variety of uses One goal of the master plan at Brunswick Landing was to have a variety of uses, but also complemen- tary industries and businesses. In addition to the aviation hub, Brunswick Landing has 80 busi- nesses. A selling point is Tech Place, a technology accelerator and manufac- turing business incubator with shared workspace, offi ce and manufacturing space for start-up and early-stage companies. e Maine Technology Institute is based there. It is set up for light manufacturing, composites and advanced materials — big sellers for aviation and aero- space. e region already has a trained composites workforce. Brunswick has taken advantage of that asset, with the Composites Engineering Research Lab and Technology Center, the Maine Composites Alliance and the Southern Maine Community College Advanced Technology and Engineering Center, which off ers a degree in composite science and manufacturing, all on site. Coming in for a landing On a former Navy base, an aviation hub is growing B y M a u r e e n M i l l i k e n I N F R A S T R U C T U R E / D I S T R I B U T I O N P H O T O / T I M G R E E N WAY Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, in the TechPlace lobby near a scale model of an Atol 650, an amphibious aircraft to be built by Atol USA at Brunswick Landing.

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