By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS - DOVER-FOXCROFT - Because Dexter and Newport were excluded from joining Penobscot County's Pine Tree Zone application even though the towns are located in that county, the two have allied with a similar effort by Piscataquis County."What prompted that [the exclusion], I do not know," Dexter Town Manager Robert Simpson said Wednesday. Because it upset him that no one informed the town during the process, Simpson said, he was drafting a letter to Gov. John Baldacci asking for a specific explanation of why the town was excluded.
The slight aside, Simpson said he and the Dexter Town Council support the town's collaboration with Piscataquis County and Newport. The three entities, to be identified in an application as the Penquis Pine Tree Zone, are vying for one of eight Pine Tree Zone designations, four of which have already been designated by the governor. The designation brings with it a host of tax incentives to spur economic development and investment in economically distressed regions of the state.
Dexter and Newport are a good fit with Piscataquis County because Route 7, which connects the communities, is a natural transportation and economic corridor to Interstate 95, according to Mark Scarano, executive director of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council.
"Dexter, in particular, is part of the economic sphere we exist in," Scarano said. He said that Piscataquis County residents represented 20 percent of the layoffs made when Dexter Shoe Co. closed its manufacturing operations. Scarano said that 17 properties have been targeted for the zone, ranging from the Moosehead Industrial Park in Moosehead Junction Township, the industrial park in Newport, Brownville's rail development yard and Dexter's vacant shoe company buildings.
The development plan for the zone designation application must be submitted by the end of this month and is being written on behalf of the communities by John Holden of Eastern Maine Development District. EMDC is central to the application as the firm - along with the Piscataquis Properties Corp., the Newport Development Corp. and Dexter Regional Development Corporation - will administer the zone efforts.
Each of the communities that have designated sites will pay $750 for marketing efforts, if the Penquis zone is established. The PCEDC has agreed to fund the marketing share for Milo, Brownville, Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford, Monson, Greenville and Piscataquis County, where identified sites are located.
To do that, Scarano said, the council will be investigating funding sources but feels confident the goals of the program will justify the expenditure.