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Brunswick Naval Air Station redevelopers hope Congress approves science bill

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Brunswick Naval Air Station redevelopers hope Congress approves science bill

BRUNSWICK — A bill making its way through Congress could help the redevelopers of Brunswick Naval Air Station receive funding for science park projects.

The legislation, dubbed the Build a Stronger America Act, is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. It could benefit plans for a renewable energy park at the base, envisioned as a hub for the research and development of new fuel and energy sources.

According to Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, Snowe's legislation is significant because the base's proposed renewable energy center essentially doubles as a science park.

Levesque told the MRRA board of directors last month that the bill could provide grants and loan guarantees for the development of science parks across the country. However, a key provision is that a qualifying community be one directly affected by base closure.

Snowe testified on behalf of the bill last month, telling the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that science parks are key to growing the nation's economy and jobs. The senator cited the BNAS closure, which is expected to result in the loss of 5,000 jobs and $140 million in annual income.

Committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., applauded the bill saying, "This bill recognizes the tremendous potential of our research parks to accelerate economic growth, promote competitiveness and create jobs."

The committee unanimously endorsed the bill, where it will slated for consideration by the full Senate.

Levesque said that a corresponding bill is being prepared in the House. He hoped that the state's two Democratic representatives, Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Mike Michaud, would sign on as co-sponsors.

"The bill gives us a leg up on attracting new businesses to the base," Levesque said.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net