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Medical foam maker eyes Brunswick base property

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Medical foam maker eyes Brunswick base property

BRUNSWICK — A company based in Wiscasset is making plans to establish a manufacturing plant at Brunswick Naval Air Station, which is slated to be closed early next year and renamed Brunswick Landing.

Molnlycke Health Care, a manufacturer of medical foam, recently purchased Rynel Inc. The Brunswick facility will be the first Molnlycke manufacturing site in the United States.

Rynel is based in Wiscasset and will continue to operate under its name as a subsidiary of Molnlycke. Molnlycke also will keep its name, site coordinator James Detert said.

"We thought it was a unique site. The community college is nearby," Detert said, adding there will be the need for skilled technicians as well as training. "There's housing available. That entered into our decision as well."

Detert said an estimated 100 jobs will be "good jobs" ranging from chemists, engineers and laboratory technicians to trade school positions. He said due to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for manufacturing medical products, employees will be required to work in a sterile environment during the "sophisticated manufacturing" process. Detert said there is also a lot of documentation involved in the process.

Molnlycke's building will replace a 1940s-era base blockhouse with a new estimated 78,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, Detert said. He said there should be little environmental impact from construction due to the impervious surfaces that will remain for parking.

"This should be a better building," he said. "This should be a slight improvement."

Detert said Molnlycke is making "a very big commitment" to the location, though there is not a guarantee until all municipal applications and site plans are approved. He said the company expects to have a final building design within two weeks; then the estimated $12 million cost can be refined.

"We looked around at what land was available and what had the infrastructure," Detert said.

The company expects to house more than $25 million worth of equipment at Brunswick Landing. Detert said the manufacturing process is very clean and does not create any hazardous materials or harm the environment with airbore discharges. He said the building should be complete by the end of 2011.

Detert said Molnlycke is the fastest growing wound-care company in the world.

"The U.S. is such a strong end market, it makes sense," he said.

According to a press release on the company's website, it was recently awarded a five-year federal contract to provide products to veterans, the Department of Defense, Indian Health and federal prisons.

The U.S. headquarters of Molnlycke is in Georgia, where about 200 salespeople work. There is also a shipping warehouse in South Carolina, Detert said.

Helping the process is the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. MRRA Executive Director Steven Levesque went "out of the way to help," Detert said. The land and the proposed manufacturing plant will be owned by MRRA and leased to Molnlycke, he said.

Levesque said site applications have been submitted to the Brunswick Planning Board and Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The applications are in MRRA's name as the property owner, he said.

Levesque said Molnlycke will join Kestral Aircraft, Maine Tool &Machine and New England Tent & Awning at Brunswick Landing. While he said the transfer of property is a "complex process," the airport property transfer will be complete in December and other property is expected to be transferred in May 2011.

He said there are several other companies interested in working with MRRA, though their names are not being released at this time. The naval air station property consists of about 3,200 acres, 1,500 acres of which "are suitable for redevelopment," Levesque said.

Other areas will be set aside for recreation and conservation.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net