The organization that is redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station will receive nearly $3 million in grants and matching funds to help convert an aircraft maintenance building into a tech center that would provide low-cost office, lab and work space for advanced manufacturing companies

One grant for $750,000 comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The grant triggers matching contributions of $250,000 each from the Brunswick Development Corp., Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development and the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said Steve Levesque, executive director of the redevelopment authority.

Another grant for, $1.3 million, comes from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

The grants are part of the Make It in America Challenge, an initiative by the Obama administration to encourage job creation and business investment. The announcement of more than $20 million in grant funding to 10 winners was made Tuesday.

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority will use the grants and matching funds to help convert the building into TechPlace, which would host aerospace, aviation, advanced-materials, renewable-energy and biotechnology manufacturing. The building has about 93,000 square feet of space that could house as many as 50 small businesses, Levesque said.

He said there are a “couple of prospective tenants” for the space, but he would not name any companies. The goal of the business incubator will be to help create or support an estimated 300 jobs in the Brunswick area in its first three years.

Levesque did not elaborate on plans for the project, saying it is early in the process.

“This is exactly the kind of investment that is helping bring manufacturing jobs back to Maine and develop new industries for our state. It will give the redevelopment efforts at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station a big boost,” said U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, in a prepared statement. “Converting this building into a tech hub will help create good-paying manufacturing jobs right here in Maine.”

The redevelopment authority is working with several partners – including Southern Maine Community College, the Coastal Counties Workforce, the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Maine Technology Institute – to offer training, technical assistance and other support for the businesses.

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com