BUCKSPORT — Maine Maritime Academy’s plan to open a training center on a portion of the former Verso mill site may offer business opportunities for the town of Bucksport.
Maine Maritime President William Brennan spoke to the Bucksport Town Council Dec. 13 about the school’s plans.
In November, MMA signed a purchase and sale agreement with AIM Development for the mill’s former employee development center building, which includes a five-acre parcel, according to MMA spokeswoman Jennifer DeJoy.
The Center for Professional Mariner Development will provide highly specialized courses for mariners to receive certification and credentials to meet maritime regulatory requirements.
The center also will offer basic and advanced marine firefighter safety training as well as provide an ocean survival simulator and helicopter evacuation training, Brennan said.
“It’s a whole host of things — in many respects beyond the scope of what we present to our students in Castine,” said Brennan.
MMA had considered using property it already owns in Penobscot, but the utilities at the mill site make it an ideal location for the professional development center, Brennan said.
“Fundamentally, the academy has maximized it’s capability in the town of Castine,” he said.
The president said he hopes to have MMA’s continuing education courses moved to the Bucksport site by the end of spring 2019. The firefighting training may be operational by December 2019.
The professional mariner center also will provide MMA a source of revenue.
“We are a state agency but we do contribute significantly to our local community,” Brennan said. MMA would allow the Bucksport Fire Department to use the training facility.
MMA’s new digs represent business opportunities for Bucksport.
“The town could capitalize on a need for lodging,” Brennan said. “Many of them will require short term accommodations.”
Brennan said there may be space available for business incubator startups at the professional development center if the town of Bucksport is interested.
“We would be thrilled to be involved with port development here,” Brennan added.
The meeting wasn’t all business.
Brennan flashed back to his youth taking the bus from Castine to Bucksport Junior High School, which he attended with some town councilors.
“The circle of life never ceases to amaze me,” Brennan said. “I don’t think any of us imagined this but it’s a pleasure.”