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$250,000 grant awarded toward mouse food processing facility in Houlton

HOULTON, Maine — The Northern Maine Development Commission has received a $250,000 grant that will assist in the construction of a multi-million dollar animal food processing and testing facility in Houlton.

Robert Clark, executive director of NMDC in Caribou, said Monday that officials with the Northern Border Regional Commission awarded the grant. The money was part of a total $2.9 million the organization awarded to address eight infrastructure projects throughout Aroostook, Somerset, and Knox counties, according to U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.

Clark said Monday that officials are seeking three different grants to construct a 12,000-square-foot facility for Laboratory Feeds of Maine. The building would be used as a processing and testing facility for mouse food. It will be constructed on five acres of land in the Houlton Industrial Park, near the town’s airport.

Clark said that the Southern Aroostook Development Corp., a Houlton-based group that works to bring new businesses to the region, have submitted an application for a $1.6 million grant to the federal Economic Development Administration. The SADC, which is expected to learn about the EDA grant application this summer, would lease the building to Laboratory Feeds of Maine.

The money will finance extensive paving, painting, equipment installation, and external silos for the building. Clark said in a presentation before the Houlton Council last month that the facility would bring an estimated 10 full time jobs and seven more indirect jobs to the community.

The town also is hoping to secure another $275,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding. Laboratory Feeds of Maine will apply for a $2.7 million loan from Coastal Enterprises Inc. and combine it with a $1.3 million cash injection from investors, according to Clark.

Bill MacDonald, town manager in Houlton, said Monday that he believes the town will hear whether the CDBG grant has been received later this summer. He was excited about the news of the latest funding.

“This is going to be a great project for the town,” he said.

Clark said that the ability to build and support the project exists.

“We expect to have this project completed next year, likely by September 2019,” he said Monday.

The Northern Border Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that was created by the U.S. Congress in 2008 in order to help alleviate economic distress and encourage private sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.

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