Pres. Jackson introduces legislation to protect Loring jobs, support economic opportunity in Limestone 

AUGUSTA – On Tuesday, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced legislation to increase and extend a tax break for the Loring Development Authority to protect jobs at the former air force base, attract new economic opportunities and alleviate pressure on the residents of Limestone. The proposal – LD 1981, “An Act to Extend and Expand the Loring Job Increment Financing Fund” – was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee.

“For decades, the people of Limestone and Aroostook County have worked to revitalize the Loring Air Force Base. Despite numerous setbacks, the Loring Commerce Center supports hundreds of jobs and is finally beginning to attract the type of investment that will bring much-needed economic opportunities to the region. However, maintaining a base of this size and scope that is important to our history and our future is costly,” said President Jackson. “Increasing and extending the Loring Job Increment Financing Fund is essential to supporting both new and existing jobs and encouraging more companies to invest in the former air force base. LD 1981 is about not giving up on Limestone and Aroostook County.”

Following the 1994 closure of the Loring Air Force Base, the Legislature established the Loring Job Increment Financing Fund to help keep the complex afloat and attract new economic opportunities. The law that required the State Tax Assessor to return half of the employment tax increment to the Loring Development Authority is set to expire in 2024. LD 1981 would extend the tax break and increase the amount the LDA receives to help cover maintenance for the complex, which in recent years has adversely impacted the taxpayers of Limestone. 

“The LDA board feels that for the first time in years, the future looks good.  A major project was announced in late 2022 that would involve a $4 Billion investment in a bio-refinery that would produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel from wood biomass. Aviation and other major projects are in the works as well,” said Jonathan Judkins, Interim President/CEO of the Loring Development Authority, in written testimony. “In short, we need the Job Increment Financing Fund as a means to assure our growing base of businesses that the public infrastructure will continue to serve their needs and the necessary emergency support services will be available when needed.  LD 1981 extends the life of the Loring Job Increment Financing Program and also increases the percentage of the income tax withholdings that would be available for plowing and maintaining roads, water and sewer services, other public infrastructure and police, fire and ambulance.”

The Loring Development Authority of Maine (LDA) was created in statute upon the closing of the Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. The Authority manages the 3,700 acre business, commercial and industrial park, which includes a 1,600-acre aviation complex. It serves as landlord to residents and businesses that collectively employ approximately 750 people. LDA works to attract new employment opportunities and jumpstart new economic activity in the area.

The Authority is governed by a 13-member board of trustees, twelve of whom are appointed by the Governor, subject to review by the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over economic development matters and confirmation by the Legislature. No less than seven of the trustees must be from candidates who are residents of Aroostook County and nominated by the primary impact communities. At least four of the remaining appointments must be from candidates who are not residents of Aroostook County. 

LD 1981 will be the subject of additional work sessions before the IDEA Committee.

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