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Town seeking grant to help Linneus business expand to Houlton

HOULTON, Maine — Town officials have submitted a grant application to secure funding for a Linneus business that wants to expand into the community.

Town Councilors on May 13 approved a resolution that authorized Town Manager Marian Anderson to submit an application to the state’s Community Development Block Grant program for $270,000 in funding.

The grant money would be used by Aurora Mills and Farm of Linneus to purchase capital and non-capital equipment for the  construction of a grain processing facility in Houlton.

Nancy Ketch, the town’s economic and community development director, said on Tuesday that Aurora Mills and Farm wants to expand their operation into Houlton to allow for a larger milling facility while maintaining their farming operation in Linneus.  

“This will allow them to increase production and develop some new product lines, which will both help to grow the business and add jobs to the area,” she said. “This is a requirement of the CDBG program. They, like Laboratory Feeds of Maine, are looking to apply for additional grants to put the whole project together.”

Ketch said that the town went through a similar process last year with Laboratory Feeds of Maine.

Working with Northern Maine Development Commission, officials with the town and Southern Aroostook Development Corp. successfully secured a $1.6 million grant from the Economic Development Administration for Laboratory Feeds. The funding is helping to build a processing and testing facility in Houlton to produce food for laboratory research mice.

The 12,000-square-foot facility is being constructed on five acres of land in the Houlton Industrial Park, near the town’s airport. It is expected to manufacture 4 million pounds of laboratory research food annually for large research laboratories in Maine and California. The building will be leased to Laboratory Feeds of Maine.

Ketch told councilors that the Aurora Mills and Farms expansion will help with job creation, and a percentage of the jobs will go to low and moderate income individuals, which is a requirement of the grant.

Aurora Mills and Farm is a family-owned business devoted to providing Maine-grown, 100 percent USDA certified organic grains, according to its website.

Sara Williams, whose father Matthew Williams opened the operation, where grain is milled on the farm, in 2001 to supply bakers with all Maine ingredients.

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