Editorial: Thumbs up to Brunswick base agency

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It’s doubtful that anyone would accuse us of being boosters for the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. It’s been The Forecaster’s goal throughout the Brunswick Naval Air Station closing process to take an unbiased, watchdog approach toward MRRA and its efforts to redefine and redevelop the base.

That approach was never more obvious than last year and early this year, when we reported extensively on MRRA’s questionable and ultimately failed attempt to lure Oxford Aviation to Brunswick. In an April editorial we encouraged MRRA to get over its infatuation with Oxford and move on to courting more reliable business partners.

The deal MRRA announced last week with Kestrel Aircraft is a step in that direction.

Kestrel’s founder and chief executive officer, Alan Klapmeier, is a proven and accomplished aviation industry innovator. Unlike Oxford Aviation and its failed job-creation record, Klapmeier’s prior performance at Cirrus Aircraft – 1,500 jobs worldwide and the largest employer in Duluth, Minn. – provides little reason to doubt that Kestrel has the potential to live up to the promise of 300 jobs in Brunswick within three years.

Although he’ll undoubtedly have to balance his penchant for costly innovation with the economic realities of doing business in Maine, Klapmeier’s recognition of the value of having Southern Maine Community College and the composites industry cluster in Brunswick as partners shows MRRA is on the right track.

We’ll continue to keep a watchful eye on MRRA, Kestrel and the overall plans for BNAS. But this week, unlike last April, MRRA deserves a big pat on the back.