HOULTON, Maine — Two local businesses will be getting a boost thanks in part to Community Development Block Grants.
The Houlton Town Council approved the two grants during Monday evening’s regular council meeting, following a public hearing on both applications.
Tiny Homes of Maine was awarded $250,000 to support the purchase of equipment and inventory and to also provide working capital for operations of the Tiny Homes manufacturing facility located in Houlton’s Industrial Park.
Louisiana Pacific received $100,000 for the purpose of supporting training of employees on the operation of the company’s new siding manufacturing system. The training is part of the company’s $150 million renovation to the mill, which is located in New Limerick.
Tiny Homes of Maine, which manufactures small trailer houses known as tiny homes, has seen its business steadily increase in the past few years and is now expanding its location to a new facility in Houlton’s Industrial Park.
During Monday night’s council meeting, councilor Dennis Harmon questioned why the town of Houlton was involved in the Louisiana Pacific project, considering the plant is located in neighboring New Limerick.
“Do we get any kind of admin fee for handling this grant for New Limerick,” Harmon asked. “Is there a reason that New Limerick would not do this, since it is their tax base?”
Nancy Ketch, the town’s economic and community development director, explained the town already had an existing CDBG grant in the works for Tiny Homes, so the state asked the town of Houlton if they would serve as the agent handling the grant for Louisiana Pacific.
“The state approached us because we had an open grant and wanted to get funds to Louisiana Pacific,” Ketch said. “It is being funneled through our grant process.”
Ryan Bushey, human resources manager at Louisiana Pacific, acknowledged the grant application could have gone through the town of New Limerick, but since Houlton already had an application in the works, it made sense to partner with Houlton on the project.
“We try to be good corporate citizens here in the community,” he said. “Our money spreads not only in New Limerick, but for a 30-mile radius. We give back to the town to support youth activities and events through the Chamber of Commerce. Houlton already had the process in place.”
Harmon said he had no issues with the project at Louisiana Pacific, but did not feel Houlton’s administration team should be handling the grant for a business located in another town. He was the lone council member to vote in opposition of the grant.