Certain properties located around Piscataquis County, Dexter, and Newport were officially approved as Pine Tree Zones during a recent announcement by Maine Governor John Baldacci.
The Pine Tree Zone initiative is a State sponsored tax incentive program dedicated toward businesses investments within certain geographic properties. In order to obtain these incentives, over 100 municipalities throughout Maine organized into eight regional groups to jointly apply for the designation. The Towns of Newport, Dexter, and six Piscataquis County municipalities applied together and were notified on Friday that their pre-application was successful. Communities with Town Meeting form of government need to have articles supporting the application approved on their annual Town Meeting Warrants.
Economic development officials from Piscataquis County, Newport, and Dexter were pleased at their applications success. Their application covered 17 different properties including:
Plum Creek Timberlands Property, Big Moose Township
The Pine Tree Zone application was written on behalf of the municipalities by John Holden, a Business Development Specialist with the Eastern Maine Development Corporation. Holden served as a neutral facilitator as the municipalities decided on what properties would be added to the Pine Tree Zone application. One part of the Zone application was a development plan that includes how properties can be improved, how they could be marketed, and how ongoing administrative issues will be accomplished. In order to streamline Zone related decision-making, the all the municipalities supported the concept of having an economic development organization represent their interests. The Dexter Town Council chose the Dexter Region Development Corporation, the Newport Board of Selectmen chose the Newport Development Corporation, while the six Piscataquis County municipalities chose the Piscataquis Properties Corporation.
News of the State's approval was embraced by those involved with assisting on the application.
Judy Wilbur Craig, President of the DRDC was excited at the prospect of having certain properties within the Town designated. She noted the Dexter Shoe Buildings contained within a Pine Tree Zone have been "underutilized too long and that perhaps these incentives will bring in newer, job creating businesses to the area." Craig also hoped for future Pine Tree Zone related developments at the Dexter Municipal Airport which she said was "one of the area's best kept secrets."
Jim Ricker, Newport Town Manager and member of the Newport Development Council also expressed satisfaction at the announcement. Newport's two industrial parks are included on the list of Pine Tree Zone sites. Ricker noted that the close proximity to Interstate 95 has already made lots within the Parks attractive and that Pine Tree Zone designation will only increase their attractiveness. "We field quite a few phone calls from businesses interested in the Parks. It's nice to have incentives with teeth to offer as well." Ricker also noted the positive relationships that have developed with Dexter and Piscataquis County through the Pine Tree Zone application process. "Our meetings to discuss sites have opened all our eyes to the benefits of cooperating together. If we can't accommodate a business interested in coming to our individual area, the relationships we've built will help us easily promote the other Pine Tree Zone sites."
Mark Scarano, Executive Director of the Piscataquis Properties Corporation, a consortia of Piscataquis County municipalities that have joined together to promote property-based economic development, was pleased at the acceptance of sites within Piscataquis County. "We've been anticipating our sites being approved by the State and have mentioned the incentives to some businesses interested in expanding into Maine," Scarano stated. "The incentives really grabbed their attention and, I'm convinced, they've given our State a second look because of Pine Tree Zones."
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