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February 14, 2024

Kingfish, Maine Plywood, Tanbark among grant recipients for electrical upgrades

 Kathryn Piper and Hussam AlRawi, center, and their team at Five Pillars Butchery received $55,000 to support construction of polyphase power components in a new facility.

Six Maine companies will receive a total of $6.5 million in grants to upgrade their electrical infrastructure and allow them to expand their facilities and workforces.

"Electricity supply can be a challenge for many businesses, particularly in rural areas,” Gov. Janet Mills said in Monday’s announcement. “Modernizing electric grid infrastructure is key to helping employers locate and grow in Maine with confidence."

The grants are part of a program with the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Governor's Energy Office and the Maine Technology Institute. The goal is to boost grid reliability and resilience in Maine's heritage industries, including food production, manufacturing and forestry.

Each project includes a private capital match.

Five Pillars Butchery, Unity, $55,000: The family-owned and -operated halal slaughter and processor is working to construct northern New England's first halal-certified, USDA- regulated slaughter and processing facility. Five Pillars will use its grant to support the construction of the polyphase power components in the new facility, which will employ 12 full-time employees, benefit Maine farmers and cooperatives across the supply chain, and help meet Maine's growing need for halal meat.

Heiwa Tofu, Rockport, $47,500: This producer of small-batch tofu, using organic, non-GMO soybeans grown across Maine and New England, is limited by single-phase power at its facility. The company will use its grant to upgrade to three-phase power, which will expand production capacity and result in the hiring of three new full-time employees over the next two years.

The Holy Donut Inc., Arundel, $42,000: The producer of doughnuts made from Maine-grown potatoes, with retail locations in Arundel, Portland and Scarborough, will use the grant to upgrade the supply power at its Arundel production facility to three-phase and implement a new production line expected to better position the company for growth throughout the Northeast.

3 people smiling with arms crossed
Courtesy / Kingfish Maine
Kingfish Maine’s team, from left: operations managers Tom Sorby and Megan Sorby and hatchery technician Liz Groover. Not pictured is Lead Technician Tom Reynolds.

Kingfish Maine Inc., Jonesport, $4 million: The company’s recirculating aquaculture facility, still to be built in Jonesport, is expected to produce 8,500 metric tons of yellowtail kingfish annually at full production. The grant will allow the company to upgrade the existing power supply to the facility, which is expected to eventually employ between 70 to 100 local residents.

Maine Plywood USA, Bingham, $993,608: The producer of plywood plans to open a production facility in Bingham that, when operational, is expected to employ 110 workers. The company will use its grant to integrate power generation capacity into its facility, saving money and enhancing competitiveness.

person in factory
File photo / Tim Greenway
Melissa LaCasse, co-founder and CEO of Tanbark Molded Fiber Products, at the company’s factory in Saco.

Tanbark Molded Fiber Products Inc., Saco, $1,336,892: The growing producer of sustainable packaging made from Maine's heritage pulp and paper industry will use its grant to upgrade power at its Saco production facility, allowing it to use equipment necessary to meet growing demand. The upgrade will allow the company to add at least 35 positions.

"Reliable electric service is critical to Maine's economic growth and these grants will support these Maine companies to continue to grow and expand, providing good jobs for Maine people," said DECD Commissioner Heather Johnson and Dan Burgess, director of the Governor's Energy Office, in a joint statement. "Upgrading the electric grid will also benefit the communities surrounding these businesses by supporting additional economic activity."

The competitive grant process was administered by MTI. 

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