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June 6, 2018

Layoffs loom at Limestone’s Maine Military Authority

With Maine Military Authority completing its contract to overhaul 32 transit buses for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, it might have to lay off 53 employees if more work is not found.

The County reported that Maine Military Academy, located on the former Loring Air Force Base, signed the $19 million contract in 2014 and is nearing completion. The project was more costly than initially anticipated, so in 2017 Gov. Paul LePage approved a $7 million rescue package.

Maine Military Authority was created by the state Legislature in 2000 as a quasi-governmental business to restore military vehicles. Over the years, Maine Military Authority refurbished more than 16,000 vehicles, generated $600 million in revenue and at its peak had 550 workers, the Portland Press Herald reported last year.

Executive Director Tim Corbett told the newspaper that several new projects "are in the works," but that "the timing is not up to us," and that the "start dates are not clear."

The newly formed Loring Industries LLC, also on the former base, told The County the company has plans to hire some of the Maine Military Authority employees. Loring Industries is working on buses for Motor Coach Industries and is in the process of finalizing other contracts.

In early May, Loring Development Authority President Carl Flora told The County that Loring Industries' bus contract would provide a "steady flow of work" and involves refurbishing buses that were leased or are trade-ins. Loring Industries LLC was established in 2015.

The former base, now called the Loring Commerce Center, has evolved into a busy commercial, industrial and aviation park that is home to 25 new employers and 1,200 employees, according to its website.

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