Committee unanimously approves Jackson bill to support Washburn processing plant

AUGUSTA—The Legislature’s Taxation Committee unanimously approved a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to allow a potato processing plant in Aroostook County, on Tuesday. LD 1586, “An Act To Promote Major Food Processing and Manufacturing Facility Expansion and To Create Jobs in Maine,” would create a tax credit for major food processing and manufacturing businesses that want to expand their headquarters in Maine.


“This is a great opportunity for residents of Washburn and Aroostook County as a whole. There is a lot of untapped economic potential in the region and I’m hopeful that this bill will encourage other manufacturing and processing companies to relocate to Maine,” said President Jackson. “I’m grateful to the members of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee for recognizing the importance of this bill and what it could do for workers and families in rural Maine.


LD 1586 provides a tax credit to food processing companies that have headquarters in Maine for a minimum of five years, pay 75 percent of their workforce above the income threshold established by the Department of Economic and Community Development, create at least 40 new full-time employees by the end of the first year qualifying for the credit, and intend to make a qualified investment of at least $35 million in the construction or expansion of a facility for that business within the first five years of the credit.


“We are fully supportive of opportunities which help develop our state’s food economy, especially in the Northern part of the state. This effort directly aligns with our Maine values,” testified Christine Cummings of the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association at the public hearing.


The bill also has the support of the Maine Potato BoardWashburn Town Manager, Donna Turner, and the Northern Maine Development Foundation.


The Legislature has passed similar bills in previous years to support industry growth and good-paying jobs. Last session, the Legislature passed a bill from President Jackson to incentivize companies to base or expand their operations in Maine. This initiative played a central role in IDEXX keeping their headquarters in Westbrook, and a $62 million expansion in Westbrook with potential to add 600 more workers at the new facility.


LD 1586 will now go before the full Legislature for additional votes.


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