Bill could aid in the creation of jobs in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine - A bill presented at a hearing in Augusta Thursday would benefit food processing or manufacturing facilities in Maine. Kathy McCarty spoke with Senate President Troy Jackson on what this would mean for a proposed plant in Washburn.

A discussion with Washburn's town manager about the proposed re-use of property on the Parsons Road for a food processing plant has one elected offiicial looking for ways to make it a reality. Sen. President Troy Jackson says he then met with Jay McCrum of Penobscot-McCrum and liked what he heard.

"We started having these conversations about him creating a new potato processing facility in Aroostook and, you know, what it meant to him - being from Aroostook County, being a Mainer and all that stuff and, I mean, the more I spoke to the man, the more I just got like enthused about the opportunity."

As a result, Jackson worked to put together a bill that would provide tax incentives based on hitting different benchmarks.

"You had to provide so many jobs to even access it, and as, you know, you provided more jobs, you'd be able to access it for a longer period. The jobs had to be better than market average wages, so I mean they're above market wages in the area. They're obviously year-round with benefits and things like that."

If the plant is built, Jackson says it could mean as many as a hundred and twenty jobs, among other benefits. It could also mean 5,000 more acres of potatoes needed to meet processing demands.

"We have it written right into the bill that 95 percent of the potato products will come from Maine. You know, there's no importation of Canadian potatoes. It's Maine, you know, predominantly Aroostook County farmers that will be supplying that."

Jackson says any concerns the tax cuts might raise will be more than offset by the wages and farming opportunities created, as well as revitalizing an economically disadvantaged region of the state. Jackson says competition is stiff, with Quebec, Idaho, Ohio and other states making offers to attract the company. He says the company wants to be in Maine, but business-wise, Maine has to step up with incentives, and that's what this bill does.