AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Friday unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to support the construction of a potato processing plant in Aroostook County.
The bill — 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.
“Companies based in our state that provide good-paying jobs and use Maine materials deserve the support of legislators in Augusta,” said President Jackson. “It is crucially important that we incentivize companies to relocate here, grow and breathe new life into our economy. This proposal represents a great opportunity for the town of Washburn and the surrounding communities in Aroostook County.”
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 (DECD), create at least 40 new full-time positions 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. The proposal also requires that at least 95 percent of potatoes processed at a participating facility are grown and harvested in Maine.
Penobscot McCrum LLC, currently based in Belfast, is among the companies looking to use this credit to grow their operations. The company has been planning to build a new processing plant at the site of a former potato factory in Washburn.
“The McCrum family has provided jobs to the people of Waldo County for generations. Supporting companies like Penobscot McCrum is important not only for rural Maine but also for the future of food processing in our state,” said Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast. “I’m proud to cosponsor this effort and want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature for getting behind this proposal.”
The bill passed unanimously in the Taxation Committee last month, and has also garnered the support of the Maine Potato Board, Washburn Town Manager, Donna Turner, and the Northern Maine Development Foundation. The effort is also cosponsored by a number of Aroostook County legislators, including Sen. Mike Carpenter, D-Houlton.
“We were happy to collaborate with President Jackson and his staff on this important piece of legislation,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the DECD. “When we can work to create jobs and opportunity for people in a rural community for people in a rural community then entire state benefits.”
LD 1586 now goes to the House for additional votes.