Yarmouth insurance firm plans new HQ, job growth

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YARMOUTH — Patriot Insurance is planning the town’s second major business expansion project in a year.

The insurance company, which provides personal, commercial and life insurance, has been leasing space in the Tyler Technologies building on Route 1. It will be expanding to the Down-East Village motel property at 705 U.S. Route 1.

“Their goal is to make that their home base,” Economic Development Director Denise Clavette said.

Patriot Insurance has 69 employees, 64 of whom work in Yarmouth, and the expansion would allow the company to grow to more than 100 employees within the next five to 10 years, Clavette said.

The Down-East Village property has “been on the market for a few years,” according to Clavette, and Patriot Insurance has a contract with the owners. If the project is approved, the insurance company will demolish the buildings on the site and construct one larger building.

It would be one of the first projects approved under the town’s Route 1 character-based code, which sets standards for the appearance of buildings.

Clavette said Patriot Insurance intends to create a property with “a building of traditional New England architecture, fitting within Yarmouth’s historical character, a well-designed landscape, gardens, and connecting to the Town’s walking path.”

The company has already made a presentation to town staff and will be going before the Planning Board early in the summer for site review and, eventually, site approval. If approved, construction could start in May or June 2017.

In a press release, Town Council Chairman Randall Bates said he liked what he saw in the presentation.

“The Down-East Village site is an ideal site, and we are happy to see one of Yarmouth’s businesses develop a permanent home here, and delighted to hear of their intent to keep within Yarmouth’s character and connect with the village,” he said.

The town also approved the expansion of Tyler Technologies in December. That project includes plans to build offices for about 575 new employees by 2024.

Clavette, who was hired as the town’s first economic development director a year ago, said she’s happy with what’s been accomplished over the past year. Bates said he’s impressed with what’s been done, too.

“We are very excited that our economic development activities are already paying off, and that Patriot Insurance has chosen Yarmouth for their expansion,” he said.

With the assistance of the economic development advisory board that was formed in April, Clavette has been working with around 30 Yarmouth-based businesses that are either looking to expand or find a more suitable location. Clavette said she has also been working with outside businesses that want to move to Yarmouth.

Clavette said it’s important to form relationships with all of the businesses she works with so she can understand what they’re looking for.

“The key is to find something that meets their needs and meets their needs going forward,” she said. “It’s easy to meet someone’s needs immediately, but it’s another to make sure you’re meeting their needs long term.”

It’s also important to make sure businesses want to stick around for the long haul and prevent a lot of turnover on a property, Clavette said.

“What you want is not for the business to come in and then leave in a year,” she said.

Although there are some “for lease” signs along Route 1, Clavette said she’s not rushing to have the buildings filled. She said she has been taking the time to find the right business for each space.

“It’s very easy for people to think, ‘Let’s fill the space’ and ‘Why is the sign there?” she said. “The thing with leases is, you need to find the right fit.”

Although Clavette couldn’t share everything she has in the works, she said there will be some new businesses popping up soon. She said property on Route 1 between DeLorme and Casco Bay Ford is under contract, and a lease is in the works for office space above Gather on Main Street.

Clavette also played a part in the expansion of 317 Main Community Music Center, which recently bought the building where it is housed, and will be expanding into the adjacent barn. She also worked on the remodel of Handy’s Market & Cafe on Main Street.

One of the biggest things Clavette said she’s accomplished over the past year has been the creation of three tax increment finance districts that are expected to generate $24 million in revenue over a 30-year period.

Clavette said while some residents may think not a lot has changed in town over the past year, the little things, as well as the big things, are really adding up.

“A lot of these projects, it’s incremental, but it’s huge for Yarmouth,” she said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Patriot Insurance plans to construct new offices on the site of the Down-East Village motel on Route 1 in Yarmouth.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.