In January, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) opened TechPlace, Brunswick Landing’s Technology Accelerator. TechPlace supports the business development needs of early-stage companies and startups in a shared and collaborative work environment. It will give entrepreneurs a place to network with others, research and develop ideas, build prototypes, test products, assemble, grow, and become successful manufacturing and technology companies.
TechPlace is located at 74 Orion Street in the newly renovated 93,000 SF former Navy aviation maintenance department. Here, aircraft components from the P3 Orions were repaired in dozens of individual workshops and testing facilities. The building is being converted into shared industrial “maker spaces” and offices. It includes:
- Co-working office space
- Co-working manufacturing / prototype lab
- Private office / shop space
- Shared administrative equipment
- Shared wet laboratory
- VTC enabled conference rooms
- Access to business support programs, mentoring and networking
- Free WiFi
MRRA kicked off renovations in September with HardyPond Construction of Westbrook as the general contractor. Phase I of the $1.5 million project was funded in part by the U.S. Government’s “Make It in America Challenge” grant, with matching monies from MRRA, the Brunswick Development Corporation, and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. More than 20,000 SF of shared office space, conference rooms and common spaces have been created.
Phase 2, which focuses on shared manufacturing and laboratory spaces, will be ready to accept business associates in April. TechPlace already has seven businesses in the facility. They are: Harbor Digital, Drummond Woodsum, Insphero, STARC Systems, Atayne, Maritime Surveillance and Greisen Aerospace.
TechPlace will offer more than just physical space for young companies. It will provide opportunities for access to a whole suite of business development assistance programs and mentoring from experienced professionals with expertise in the areas of finance, human resources, patent law, marketing, manufacturing efficiencies, and hiring employees to name a few.
“We’re really excited about what TechPlace can mean to the future of Maine,” MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said. “With the redevelopment program to date, we’ve primarily been focused on filling our largest buildings. If you need a 100,000 SF hangar, I can lease you one tomorrow, but we didn’t have many smaller spaces that small businesses need to get started. We believe that TechPlace represents a key element in the redevelopment effort of the former Naval Air Station and in growing Maine’s small business economy.”
“In this kind of environment, an early-stage business has a much better chance of surviving and succeeding,” Levesque said. “Companies can work together and learn from each other and maybe even find ways collaborate. This is how innovation occurs more rapidly. TechPlace is set up to be ground zero for collisions of innovation that will foster new and successful technology businesses in Maine.”
NASB Redevelopment Having Major Impact
While the excitement of TechPlace has been the main focus of 2015, overall redevelopment continues at a brisk pace. In 2014, we surpassed 500 jobs created. We now have more than 60 entities doing business at Brunswick Landing and Topsham Commerce Park. There are companies in each of our five target sectors – aviation/aerospace, biotech/biomed, composites/advanced materials, IT, and renewable energy.
Redevelopment activities have generated more than $1.8 million in property taxes and $65 million in property valuation to the Towns of Brunswick and Topsham. More than $50 million has been paid out to state and local contractors. On the education front, Southern Maine Community College and the University of Maine now have a combined enrollment of more than 900 students at the schools’ Brunswick Landing campus.
The redevelopment project has created a buzz among local real estate developers and generated more than $200 million in capital investment in former Navy properties. Quality developers like George Schott, Jim Howard, Tom Wright, Doug Cardente, Mitch Rousseau, and Hilary Rockett have all made significant investments with plans to invest additional millions. Planned projects include: a service station/convenience store and office building near the front of Brunswick Landing; a memory-care facility; an elderly housing complex and fitness center. Jim Howard’s Priority Real Estate Group just finished construction of an animal clinic and SMCC is in the process of completing a multi-million upgrade to one of its academic buildings.
On April 2nd, we will celebrate the fourth anniversary of Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM), which opened in 2011 while the Navy was still here. In 2014, BXM had more than 13,000 airport operations. We expect that total to increase as improvements continue to the aviation complex. Aviation fuel sales have increased each of the last two years. We expect to have a record-breaking year in 2015 due to a couple of big events – the Maine Fly-In in June and the Great State of Maine Air Show in September.