April 17, 2018

MTI awards $10.9M in technology grants to seven Maine firms

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Bristol Seafood President and CEO Peter Handy in the fillet room at the company's Portland facility. Bristol Seafood imports frozen haddock from Norway and could make use of the proposed cold-storage facility. Maine Technology Institute has awarded a $743,698 technology grant to Bristol Seafood toward a $4.9 million project at its facility.

The Maine Technology Institute has completed the full disbursement of the $45 million technology bond approved by voters last June, awarding $10.9 million in challenge grant awards to seven Maine companies.

Pleasant River Lumber Co. in Dover-Foxcroft and Hussey Seating Co. in North Berwick received the highest awards in this final round of bond-funded Maine Technology Asset Fund grants.

MTI said the overall $45 million in grants will "have dramatic and demonstrable impacts on Maine's economy," generating 5,350 jobs and $1.37 billion in economic output for the state.

Earlier grants from the bond went to Vets First Choice and the Jackson Lab, among others.

Here's the breakdown on how the $10.9 million in awards announced by MTI on Friday will be distributed:

Pleasant River Lumber Co., Dover-Foxcroft: $4,226,000 awarded toward a total $12 million project expanding and modernizing its Dover-Foxcroft facility with the addition of a new planer mill, continuous dry kiln and high-speed small-log sawing line.

According to MTI, Pleasant River Lumber — which has 300 employees statewide and additional facilities in Jackman, Sanford, Hancock and Clinton — plans to use the latest technology "to efficiently process small logs and balsam fir, both of which currently lack sufficient markets in Maine. This will help meet the needs of Maine landowners and also provide by-products for the recovering paper mill industry and lumber for the growing Cross Laminated Timber markets."

Hussey Seating Co., North Berwick, $2,812,500 awarded toward an $8.2 million project. Hussey Seating — a sixth-generation family-owned business with 280 employees that was founded in 1835 — is "modernizing equipment, facilities and processes to ensure the company's continued capability to compete successfully on the global stage while remaining a Maine-based manufacturer."

"This multi-phased innovation project will have an immediate impact on preservation of market share and job retention, and is ultimately expected to have a significant positive impact on revenue and full-time employment," MTI reported.

J.S. McCarthy Printers, Augusta, $1.5 million awarded toward a $5.6 million project, involving the purchase of a Heidelberg printing press. In business for over 60 years, J.S. McCarthy has grown to be one of the largest sheetfed printing operations on the East Coast, with 230 full-time employees operating 24/7, according to MTI.

"J.S. McCarthy and Heidelberg collaborated to develop innovative proprietary technology which will be 50% more productive than the company's current equipment," MTI reported. "The purchase will allow J.S. McCarthy to increase overall capacity to substantially grow sales, creating new jobs in Maine."

ON Semiconductor, South Portland, $1 million awarded toward a $23.2 million project that MTI reported involves investments in "equipment and facilities infrastructure to enable the introduction and volume manufacturing of two new technologies at the South Portland wafer fabrication plan. "The introduction of the new technologies will advance factory capability, improve factory utilization and create more than 25 jobs," MTI reported.

Bristol Seafood, Portland, awarded $743,698 toward a $4,859,243 project at its facility. Founded in 1992, the company was the first in the United States to earn a Fair Trade certification for seafood harvested in U.S. waters and its plant meets Marine Stewardship Council guidelines.

"This grant along with capital committed by the company will support continued growth through better product quality, innovative packaging capabilities and new verticals," MTI reported, adding that Bristol expects to create 40 new jobs over the next five years as a result of the investments.

In a separate news release, Bristol Seafood President & CEO Peter Handy said MTI's grant leverages a nearly $5 million in investments planned over the next three years to add "new processing technologies and capabilities" at its facility on Portland's waterfront.

In 2017, Bristol reported record sales for the third consecutive year and received Portland's Business of the Year award.

Tilson, Portland, awarded $602,737 toward a $1,607,300 project. A high-growth 400-employee technology company headquartered in Portland, Tilson has been recognized Tilson in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. for seven years.

"Tilson's project invests in mission-critical assets to equip its Portland engineering center of excellence to increase its global competitiveness, reduce cost and add engineering jobs in Maine, by building systems to automate broadband network engineering, ultimately capturing additional market in network design-build projects across the country," MTI reported.

DeepWater Buoyancy Inc., Biddeford, awarded $187,500 toward a $500,000 project. The world's largest producer of subsea buoyancy products for the oceanographic industry — with an additional line of buoyancy solutions for offshore oil and gas and other marine companies — DeepWater Buoyancy is making investments to capitalize on demand for new products in existing markets and demand for their products in new markets.

"A substantial capital investment program is beginning to upgrade facilities, add equipment and introduce new processes," MTI reported. "Improvements will also ensure retention of current share of existing markets. The result should be a significant increase in revenues and the addition of numerous technical, professional and production jobs."

Impact of grants: 5,300 jobs

"These projects will provide extraordinary economic benefits to Maine and its citizens," MTI President Brian Whitney said in a news release. "Over 5,350 jobs will be generated in regions across Maine from North Berwick to Bangor, from Western Maine to Downeast."

All told, MTI reported it received 183 proposals seeking just under $400 million in this latest round of awards through the Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.0 program, which funds projects with the desired outcomes of gaining and holding market share, increasing revenues, expanding employment or preserving jobs.

"The funding decisions were incredibly difficult given the breadth of quality proposals that MTI received," said Whitney. "It is our hope that, given the enormous economic impact that this funding will have in Maine and the many incredible projects that are still in the pipeline, future state funding may be made available to broaden the impact even further."

MTI reported that future funding depends on several factors, including whether the $55 million commercialization bond under consideration by the Legislature passes.

Read more:

"Vets First Choice will build $20M corporate facility in Portland"

"Jackson Lab receives $12.5M grant for Ellsworth expansion"

"SmartLam becomes second CLT company to locate in Maine"

"Verso restarting paper machine, adding 120 jobs at Androscoggin Mill"

"Four other Maine companies receive MTI 'challenge' grants"

Read more

Vets First Choice, co-defendants, granted more time to respond to IDEXX lawsuit


Type your comment here:

Today's Poll If this bill dies, do you see it as a missed opportunity to address Maine’s shortage of skilled labor by helping immigrants get the training or credentials they need to be fully employed?<>
Most Popular on Facebook