Fort Fairfield may be home to a new potato chip plant

9 months ago

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Fort Fairfield could see a new potato chip processing company set up shop.

Interim Town Manager Dan Foster and newly hired Town Manager Tim Goff have been working with Bruce Sargent of Presque Isle, who wants to build the plant, Foster told town councilors Wednesday. 

That would be good news for a town that has been plagued with money problems. Foster stepped in last year to help the town resolve a debt of about $1 million, and extreme budget cuts have helped Fort Fairfield regain most of its footing. A new industry would be good for the town’s morale and bottom line, Foster said.

“This is not a done deal, but it’s the beginning of a very long process for Fort Fairfield,” Foster said. 

The town lost a major industry five years ago when biomass electricity plant ReEnergy shuttered its facility there. The town has seen Boondock’s Grille restaurant struggle to retain staff after the pandemic, and Walgreens and Family Dollar have closed.

Sargent, who owns Falcon Transportation LLC in Presque Isle and subsidiary Blue Diamond Transportation, has formed a company called Taste of Maine and is looking at sites in Fort Fairfield, Foster said.  

Town councilors approved a plan for Foster and Goff to work with Sargent on the proposal, including seeking state and federal money for the project.

Because it’s so early in the process, it is unknown how large the facility would be or how many people it would employ.

“Bruce is serious about this. He’s a County businessman and interested in the area,” Foster said after the meeting.

The plant would be welcome news for the town’s industrial base. Fort Fairfield has just upgraded its waste disposal system, and that would accommodate Sargent’s needs, he said.

Sargent was not immediately available for comment.  

The Taste of Maine Potato Chip Company Inc. filed for incorporation with the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions on Aug. 4, and is listed as a company in good standing.  

The town should know within the next couple of months whether the project will go ahead, Foster said.