DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The effort to convert a former woolen mill complex into a high-tech business center got a boost Friday, when the U.S. Commerce Department announced it was awarding a $1.5 million Economic Development Administration grant to Pinecrest Development Corp.
The project is expected to create 82 new jobs and generate $7.9 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.
The EDA grant will be used to renovate and fit-out about 19,000 square feet of the former Mayo Mill complex, a collection of seven historic buildings overlooking the Piscataquis River.
The renovations will result in usable commercial and industrial space, including about 2,000 square feet earmarked for a high-capacity data center that will take advantage of the site’s location at the juncture of three important fiber-optic lines that cross Dover-Foxcroft.
The work also will result in the creation of 12 high-tech office suites — eight of which already are taken.
An existing hydroelectric generator on the Piscataquis River will be upgraded, and solar and geothermal power systems will be added to create a truly green facility.
“This $1.5 million Economic Development Administration investment in Maine is an example of the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthening critical business infrastructure,” Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said Friday.
“The grant announced today will help Dover-Foxcroft develop a high-tech business center to meet the needs of growing industries, such as information technology and green tech, which will help create jobs and support the local economy,” she said.
Members of Maine’s congressional delegation agreed.
“I am pleased that the U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded this critical grant funding to the Pinecrest Development Corporation for the creation of a high-tech business center in Dover-Foxcroft,” U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe said. “This project holds the promise of both good-paying jobs for people in Piscataquis County and new business opportunities for the entire region.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the federal investment will help lay vital groundwork for the future growth of a high-tech economy in Piscataquis County.
“By investing in this infrastructure, we are investing in the future of the Dover-Foxcroft region, creating much-needed jobs, improving the economy, and creating new opportunities for those who live and work here,” Collins said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud called the grant “exactly the type of investment our state needs right now. The community of Dover-Foxcroft is doing a lot to position itself for economic growth and this project will take them another important step forward,” he said.
“The team behind the redevelopment of the mill is made up of committed partners that have a vision for the future and a plan for growing jobs and attracting additional investments to the region,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased that the EDA is helping to revitalize this local landmark and bring new opportunities to the area.”
Kenneth Woodbury of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, who wrote the grant proposal, said the EDA grant will help fund what ultimately will be a $10-$12 million mixed-use complex that also will include 22 rental apartments, retail shops, retail and studio space for artisans, an Internet cafe, a restaurant, a year-round indoor farmers market and an eight- to 12-room boutique hotel.
The project, he said, will be a boon for residents of a county that has lost most of it manufacturing jobs.
Some of the groundwork already is under way, Woodbury said.
“We already have $200,000 from the federal government for cleaning up asbestos and lead paint,” he said.
Woodbury said a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant is being used to help clean up and build out the space set aside for the data center.
The complex also benefited from the Charleston Correctional Facility, which provided laborers who helped clear out material left behind when the former Moosehead Manufacturing operation left.