With the former Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB) now being closed for eight years, manufacturing is driving much of the economic development success at the former base propertiesnow known as Brunswick Landing and the Topsham Commerce Park. 

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA),  working with our private sector partners, have attracted more than 130 companies to the 3,300-acre property.  Nearly 30 percent of them are engaged in some form of manufacturing activities, and more than 40% are new businesses to the State of Maine.  Our goal of becoming a tech hub with centers of excellence in our target sectors (aerospace, biotech/biomed, composites, cleantech/renewable energy, IT) has become a reality. 

To date, more than 1,850 jobs have been created, including more than 220 Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) positions Additionally, the total annual payroll generated by businesses at Brunswick Landing and Topsham Commerce Park is estimated to be more than $110 million If business growth continues at its current pace, MRRA estimates the payroll will surpass the Navy’s total annual peak payroll of $140 million within the next two years. 

Brunswick Executive Airport is also an important economic driver for the Mid Coast region and is really taking off.  The growth in air traffic, aviation fuel sales, and based aircraft is robust.  We are on pace for over 25,000 operations this year, a 20% increase over 2018.  The airport is now home to a dozen aerospace/aviation companies, including six aircraft and parts manufacturers. 

The economic development numbers indicate MRRA is exceeding its original redevelopment goals We are particularly pleased with the innovation and manufacturing businesses that are growing here.  This base redevelopment effort is focused on creating a new dynamic economic future for the  Mid Coast region and Maine.   It’s important to support innovative people and companies, particularly the types of endeavors that will boost manufacturing and lead to quality job opportunities.  Innovation is what will push Maine’s economy forward and we’re seeing some amazing examples of it here in Brunswick. 

Brunswick Landing is home to both large, world-class manufacturing businesses, such as Mölnlycke Health Care and General Dynamics / Bath Iron Works, and small to medium-size startups like STARC Systems, bluShift Aerospace, Ocean Renewable Power Company, Running Tide Technologies, and Wicked Joe Coffee Roasting (Topsham Commerce Park). Mölnlycke, a Swedish company, expanded to Brunswick Landing in 2013. MRRA constructed an 80,000 SF manufacturing plant for the company, which produces advanced medical devices and has 80 employees.  Mölnlycke has plans to eventually expand its state-of-the-art facility and its workforce. 

Brunswick Landing is also the site of TechPlace, a 95,000 SF manufacturing business incubator with machine and wood shops, composites and paint facilities and a bioproduction lab, all shared.  TechPlace is home to 38 early stage businesses, with a collective employment of over 100 highly innovative people.  One great TechPlace  story is STARC Systems, who manufactures reusable construction debris containment panels with noise reduction capabilities. STARC started in TechPlace with about 3,000 square feet of space. After two years, STARC outgrew TechPlace and moved down the street into two buildings, totaling 25,000 SF. It now has more than 50 employees and is looking to expand further. 

bluShift Aerospace, a startup company, which is designing a bio-derived rocket fuel that has the ability to launch 50-kilogram cube satellites into low-earth orbit, recently expanded out of TechPlace and into a 2,000 SF building.  bluShift was recently selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop its modular engine system.  bluShift plans to create at least 40 aerospace jobs in Maine over the next five years.  

Running Tide Technologies builds high-tech oyster farming equipment. It has space in TechPlace and recently expanded operations to an 1,800 SF building with dockage on the site of another former Navy facility — the Mitchell Field fuel depot in Harpswell.  

In April, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) completed its first RivGen® hydro kinetic tidal power product. The RivGen® is a semi-portable generator that creates electricity by submerging special turbines into rivers It was assembled in one of MRRA’s large hangars and then transported to Alaska where it will provide power for a remote village. 

Brunswick Landing has the capacity to support further growth in manufacturing. MRRA has approximately 200,000 SF of space available in hangars, ground support facilities and office buildings. It also has land available for construction of new buildings.  Sites are shovel ready and, in many cases, have utilities in place or nearby, including 3-phase power. 

 It’s certainly exciting to see the phenomenal economic resurgence of innovative businesses in this region of Maine. You can make it here! 

Steve Levesque is the Executive Director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. 

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