AUBURN, Maine — The Chinese owners of a golf course in Auburn have closed it for the season, but they still are moving ahead with plans to locate a large mushroom factory there, an economic development official said.
The Prospect Hill Golf Course, purchased by Ming Jing Industrial Group of Fuding, China, in 2016, was scheduled to open on April 26, according to the golf course’s Facebook page.
However, a sign on the door of the 694 South Main St. main entrance says the facility is closed for the season.
“That’s partly because they had a difficult time finding restaurant help, but also because the husband of the husband-and-wife team that runs it is ill. So it was primarily a health-driven decision,” said Eric Cousens, deputy director of economic and community development in Auburn.
Cousens said Ming Jing still is pursuing locations for its proposed mushroom factory, which is expected to draw in more than $15 million in investment and employ 200 people. And the company’s executives are building two homes across from the golf course on Land Road in Auburn.
Ming Jing President Nianping Wang became familiar with Auburn when his daughter attended Hebron Academy, according to Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque.
“He was visiting here quite often and got to know the area,” Levesque said in an interview with the Bangor Daily News last December. “He and [his business partner] bought the golf course as a good investment.”
Wang concluded a visit to Auburn earlier this week, Cousens said.
Wang also is building a 17-story hotel in Fuding, expected to be completed in the spring of 2020. The city of Auburn will have a free kiosk space on the first floor of the hotel to display business and tourist information about the city and Maine.
Fuding had a population of 266,780 as of 2010. That’s more than 10 times Auburn’s 2017 population of 23,033 and about one-fifth of Maine’s population of 1.34 million in 2018.