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October 16, 2018

Brunswick Executive Airport, in midst of $40M upgrade, chases aviation tenants

Courtesy / Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority
Courtesy / Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority
Brunswick Executive Airport is getting a $6.2 million grant that will pay for a general aviation hangar and needed infrastructure upgrades. Steven Levesque, executive director of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, says the airport is in contact with several large aircraft maintenance prospective tenants.

Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority continues to invest in the Brunswick Executive Airport and is redoubling efforts to land aviation maintenance tenants.

The Times Record reported that about one third of the airport's 650,000 square feet remains unused. The airport is in the midst of a $40 million, 10-year upgrade that began in 2011, and so far has included infrastructure upgrades to lighting and hangars, as well as fencing and more.

"I'm working with a number of prospects for large aircraft maintenance," Executive Director Steven Levesque told the newspaper, adding that it can be hard to compete with southern states when trying to draw new companies, in part due to New England's harsh climate and high electric costs.

In September, Levesque told Mainebiz that $25 million has been spent on the airport and its grounds.

In September, it was announced that the airport received the latest installment of the $40 million — a $6.2 million grant to pay for a general aviation hangar and infrastructure upgrades. The money is part of Federal Aviation Administration's Military Airports program, which is intended to bring former military bases up to current civil standards.

Of that installment, $3.6 million will pay for construction of a hangar to accommodate general aviation aircraft. Levesque said the new hangar will be more cost-effective than the current practice of using large maintenance hangars to house the small general aviation planes.

Drone center sets up shop

According to the authority's October newsletter, the University of Maine at Augusta's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operation Center recently moved into Hangar 6, the newest of Brunswick Executive Airport's hangars. It's now one of seven businesses located in Hangar 6.

Tom Abbott, project manager for UAS Ops Center, along with Col. Dan Leclair, education and research director, have located their offices in Hangar 6 and have begun creating an operations center for teaching and research.

Formerly at the UMaine Augusta campus, Abbott and Leclair are teaching a UMA noncredit course that prepares students for the Federal Aviation Administration's remote pilot exam.

According to Levesque's fall 2018 redevelopment news report, since the beginning of the year, the authority welcomed a dozen new businesses to Brunswick Landing and now has 115 entities doing business on the property. To date, redevelopment activities have created nearly 1,800 jobs and more than 1,500 residents in former Navy housing. Over $400 million has been invested in the redevelopment project at both Brunswick Landing and Topsham Commerce Park.

"We're ahead of expectations both in jobs creation and payroll and the housing is completely full," Levesque wrote.

Work on a new entrance and access road to Brunswick Landing is scheduled to begin in December, he added. The contractor is Harry C. Crooker & Sons of Topsham and completion is expected by next spring. The $2.6 million project is being funded by the town of Brunswick, the Maine Department of Transportation and MRRA.

The new entry point and road are expected to improve safety and minimize gridlock coming off Route 1 and on Bath Road where snarls are prevalent during rush hour.

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