Economic Development Administration grants will help support efforts to develop biotech centers

By Ramona du Houx - September 20th, 2009 · 

The Federal Government announced an Economic Development Administration grant of $885,000 to help the cities of Portland and Westbrook build two business parks to support the region’s biotechnology cluster. The grant, which will be matched by the two cities, will help pay for the necessary infrastructure to expand the Five Star Industrial Park in Westbrook and develop the Rand Road Industrial Park in Portland.

“These business parks are part of a long term plan to develop a robust biotech industry in the region,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “This is the kind of investment that leads directly to good paying, high quality jobs. Economic recovery and long term economic growth depend on projects like these.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that the business parks will lead to the creation of 960 jobs and over $160 million in private investment.

The Five Star Industrial Park in Westbrook is the headquarters of Idexx and the home of a number other companies, and this grant will help make infrastructure improvements so existing companies can expand and to attract new businesses as well.

“This is a project that is going to improve the region’s ability to attract high quality biotech and high-tech business to the region,” said Keith Luke, Economic and Community Development Director for the City of Westbrook. “Idexx is one of the fastest growing biotechs in the country. And receiving this grant now and making the necessary infrastructure improvements will help us bring the next Idexx to the region.”

In Portland, the City of Portland will use the grant money to put in the initial infrastructure necessary to develop several sites at what will become the Rand Road Industrial Park. City officials hope to attract biotech businesses to the Park.

“The timing of this is perfect in terms of positioning the Greater Portland areas as a center for new high tech and biotech businesses, said Greg Mitchell, the Economic Development Director for the City of Portland. “Our goal is to have the park open for business a year from now and be ready to go when the economy improves.”