WISCASSET, Maine — Molnlycke Health Care plans to expand its operations in Maine, adding as many as 30 new jobs over the course of the next several years.
However, the company has not decided where to add to its operations.
In Brunswick, where it recently built a new facility and will employ 45 people by the end of the year? Or in Wiscasset, where it operates the Rynel facility and employs 70 people?
Molnlycke’s indecision has left the municipalities to compete for the company’s new business.
“We’re not trying to play the towns against each other,” James Detert, Molnlycke’s business development director for the Americas, told the Bangor Daily News on Friday. “Each has its pros and cons. We need to keep both options open for awhile here, so we’re working on parallel paths to understand the business case for each location.”
Molnlycke, headquartered in Sweden, acquired a company in February 2012 called Brennan Medical in St. Paul, Minn., that manufactures medical products for burn victims.
“We more or less made the decision, though it has not been final approved yet, to move the [Brennan] manufacturing from Minnesota to Maine,” Detert said. “If we’re going to move it to Maine, it makes sense to add it on to Wiscasset or close to our new facility in Brunswick.”
The relocation of the Brennan Medical operations would cost between $6 million and $7 million, and immediately add 10 jobs with plans to add as many as 20 more in the next three to five years, Detert said.
In Wiscasset, the company would build a 32,000-square-foot expansion on an existing building that covers 40,000 square feet. In Brunswick, the company would build a new 25,000-square-foot building near its existing facility. It wouldn’t build an expansion onto its new Brunswick facility.
Molnlycke is asking both municipalities to approve tax increment financing deals to help offset its development costs. It’s asking for deals that would return 50 percent of the property taxes on the new facilities over the next 20 years, “which is very standard,” Detert said.
Wiscasset already has a TIF deal that returns 50 percent of property taxes on its existing facility to the company, according to Laurie Smith, Wiscasset’s town manager. The company asked Wiscasset’s Board of Selectmen on Tuesday evening to broaden the existing TIF to cover the expansion, Smith said Friday.
Smith said the town would like to help the company expand in Wiscasset.
“It makes all kinds of sense for us,” she said. “Sweden will be shown two business cases, and having fewer obstacles for the company in making that decision puts a better representation on the Wiscasset business case.”
A draft TIF deal will be prepared for the selectmen to consider at their next meeting on Aug. 13, Smith said, but voters will need to make the final decision. The selectmen will decide whether to put the TIF deal on the November ballot or call a special town meeting to more quickly bring the decision to a vote.
There is a sense of urgency to the issue because Molnlycke could also choose Brunswick, which would only require a vote by the town council to approve a new TIF deal with the company, Smith said.
Molnlycke doesn’t actually own its facility in Wiscasset, which could complicate things. The current owner has said it doesn’t have the wherewithal to allow the expansion, so Molnlycke is looking at either purchasing the facility or finding another developer to purchase the facility.
“When I say there are pros and cons for both sites, that’s an example,” Detert said. “That could cause further complication, so we need to keep both options open.”
Brunswick also has an existing TIF deal with the company, which could return $13 million to the company during its 20-year lifetime.
Gary Brown, Brunswick’s town manager, was not available for comment on Friday.
Molnlycke would like to have the Brennan operations underway in Maine by the end of August 2014, Detert said.
The final decision will be made at Molnlycke’s headquarters in Sweden.