- Associated Press - Sunday, June 29, 2014

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) - An economic development organization in Waterville, Maine, hopes expanding the city’s foreign trade zone will help companies better compete in a global economy, but businesses so far are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Foreign trade zones are in the United States but considered outside the country for customs purposes, allowing companies to defer, reduce or eliminate duties on imported products or avoid them on exports.

The Kennebec Journal reports (https://bit.ly/TumTvZ) that the Central Maine Growth Council expects to get approval from federal regulators soon to establish a trade zone that covers eight counties from the southern end of Somerset County down to Portland. It hasn’t signed up any businesses yet, but has contacted about a dozen of the 200 companies in the area that import foreign materials or products.

The council has secured $35,000 from municipalities, other economic development groups and the private sector to establish the zone, which would cover part of Somerset County and all of Androscoggin, Cumberland, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties. It is still looking for an additional $50,000 to bring businesses on board.

L.L. Bean’s spokeswoman, Carolyn Beem, said company representatives met with the council’s director, Darryl Sterling, and is keeping an eye on the project, but it doesn’t have a plan to join. The owner of another company, Kennebec Technologies in Augusta, said he supports the efforts to increase the region’s manufacturing base but doesn’t know if the trade zone would benefit him.

“We would be very interested in being involved if the opportunity came up and fit in with our business model,” said Wick Johnson.

According to the Foreign Trade Zone Board, Waterville is one of five Maine communities with a foreign trade zone, but Madawaska has the only zone being used by a business.


Information from: Kennebec Journal, https://www.kjonline.com/

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