By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - Officials from a Florida manufacturing company are expected to be in town next Friday to look at the vacant Dexter Shoe Co. buildings and the former Abbott Mill owned by Guilford of Maine.
Town Manager Robert Simpson told the Town Council on Thursday that state economic development officials had informed him that representatives of the company were interested in seeing the vacant buildings in the community. The town has nearly 900,000 square feet of vacant and underused manufacturing space. Simpson said the name of the firm was not released to him.
In addition, Simpson said he had received an inquiry from yet another Florida firm seeking information.
Every effort is being made to fill the void left by Dexter Shoe Co.'s decision last year to cease its manufacturing operations in Maine. The closure affected 582 employees.
Dexter Shoe officials had suggested that two of its buildings could be marketed.
The town's initial strategy request for the MacFarland and Water streets properties were to have the company partially donate the buildings and to enter a long-term lease agreement. But in recent action, company officials offered the Water Street facility to the town for half its assessed value or about $250,000, Simpson reported Thursday.
Simpson hopes the town can acquire one or more of the buildings through grants with little or no local funds.
The town also is working with the Eastern Maine Development Corp. and state and federal officials to secure a $100,000 grant to help market the facilities. The local match would be $10,000.
Aggressive in its pursuit to fill the buildings and create new jobs, the council voted Thursday to extend by three months a contract with Baldacci Associates of Bangor. This firm is working with the town in its economic development efforts. The town has been paying the firm about $2,000 a month for its assistance.
"We're at a pivotal point now," Simpson told the councilors, encouraging them to continue the contract with the consulting firm.
The fee paid by the town to Baldacci Associates can be considered as the local match for the $100,000 grant if it is received, the town manager said.
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