University College, a branch of the University of Maine System, announced Friday that it plans to relocate one of its outreach centers to a mostly vacant former mill in Rumford.

Center Director Lisa Cooper said in a statement that she has been looking for new sites and settled on the River Valley Technology Center, which is located at the once-vibrant mill on Lowell Street. Renovations at the location are already underway, with an Aug. 1 opening planned.

The center is now on Brown Street in Mexico.

University College allows students access to more than 100 certificate and degree programs within the University of Maine System. Students take classes online and through the main campus at the University of Maine at Augusta, as well as its eight outreach centers throughout the state.

“Improving access to high quality education throughout the state is a priority to us here at UMA,” said UMA President James Conneely. “The new Rumford location will provide the Western Maine Region with a spacious and comfortable setting … as well as a technologically advanced facility that will give students direct access to UMA and its many degree options and services.”

Cooper said she sees potential for the new center location to spark economic development in an area of the state that sorely needs it, particularly with the layoffs at the former NewPage paper mill.

“The River Valley Technology Center was created to encourage economic development in the historic downtown of Rumford – known as the ‘island’ – by acting as an incubator space for new start-up businesses,” she said. “We hope that our move will act as a catalyst and anchor for further tenant occupancy in that manner.”

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