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Updated: March 18, 2024 A Look Back

A Look Back: Maine’s business mix in 1994 ranged from defense industry to ‘funky secondhand shops’

Looking back at the first issue of Mainebiz (then known simply as BIZ), the roundup of state news included items from companies that have shown their staying power. Here are some highlights from 1994:

  • Bath Iron Works was awarded a $10 million Navy contract to conduct engineering and design work on the Aegis guided-missile destroyer — work that continues to this day. Bath Iron Works is part of General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD).
  • Wright Express, then a South Portland-based provider of gas credit cards, said it planned to create 44 new jobs. Today, WEX (NYSE: WEX) is headquartered on Portland’s East End and has 7,200 employees worldwide and a market capitalization of $9.47 billion.
  • Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick reported that it received an order to build 25 engines for fighter jets. Pratt & Whitney still has an active manufacturing site in North Berwick. 

On the flip side, the economy was struggling in the early 1990s. BIZ reported that Wholesale Depot closed all nine of its New England stores, including locations in Auburn, Augusta and Bangor — a total loss of 150 jobs. In Waterville, Harris Baking Co. shut down operations, putting 60 people out of work.

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