WESTBROOK — The city is working with Abbott Laboratories of Scarborough to expedite the medical device company’s expansion into Westbrook, which is expected to create hundreds of jobs.

The City Council Monday gave Abbott Laboratories permission to use city land to help transport equipment for construction as it renovates the former Olympia Sports distribution center on Bradley Avenue.

The council also gave final approval to a $29.8 million municipal budget for the next fiscal year that won’t impact taxpayers.

Abbott Laboratories helped design and is mass producing a new COVID-19 test that will give results within minutes. Test components are being made in Abbott’s Scarborough manufacturing facility. Photo courtesy of Abbott Laboratories

Abbott, headquartered in Chicago, develops a wide range of medical tests and treatments, including a recently developed rapid-response coronavirus antibody test. It produces about 50,000 of the test kits daily at its facility in Scarborough and plan to produce more in Westbrook.

Abbott is in the process of expanding 5 Bradley Ave. by 46,200 square feet. The building will house administrative offices, a warehouse and a distribution center.

“We are trying to expedite this project which will have a great economic impact on the city at a time when the city really needs one,” City Administrator Jerre Bryant said.

Work at the new facility will create between 300 and 500 jobs, city Director of Planning Jenni Franscheschi said in a letter to the Planning Board on June 12.

In the letter, Franscheschi said Abbott understands “that permitting requirements take time,” but she said expediting the process is also important because the company is trying to quickly produce more coronavirus tests.

Abbott is working through the application stage and hopes to begin the expansion soon, she said. In papers filed with the city, the company said it hoped to be operational in Westbrook by September.

“At the peak employee times, the site will be employing 480 per shift and running three shifts a day for a 24/7 operation. Coming into the fall, the applicant sees automation of the process being utilized and the employee count will drop down to 340 per shift,” Franscheschi said in a her letter.

The Planning Board reviewed the plans at their June 16 meeting and will discuss it again July 7.

“It’s a large building, I am glad this will be their home,” Council President Gary Rairdon said.

The council unanimously approved the $29.8 million city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget authorizes the use of city reserve funds to offset expected revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic and cuts nine positions across city departments. It is $184,000, or 0.61%, less than this year’s municipal budget.

The property tax rate will not increase, remaining at $17.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The owner of a $250,000 home will continue to pay $4,465 in taxes.

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