An interview with Steve Levesque of Brunswick Landing

Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2011 in News

An interview with Steve Levesque of Brunswick Landing

by David Kaler

The new Excetive Director of the newly named "Brunswick Landing" is a home-grown man who was grew up in the Lewiston -Auburn  area, graduted from Edward Little High School, served in the Marine Corps, and got his degree from the University of California at Fullerton.

Steve Levesque returned to Maine in 1988. He now holds a Masters degree in urban retail planning.
The board that Steve Leveque serves has eleven members that are appoined by the Governor.  With the new administration, the board is changing.  Gov. Paul LePage has appointed four new members. The new members have a wide background in finance, development, and law.  Leveque has not worked with the four new members, "They will  be sworn in next month," he said. "I hope to work with them as I have the other boards."
The Brunswick Landing currently is home to the Southern Maine Commuity College ( SMCC) Maine Technolgy Center, which began to offer classes this fall.  It is hoped that the center will offer an academic center to the serve the business community at the former Navy base. "Right now we have fifteen businesses, with a promise of about 700 jobs." Levesque reported. "The property has just now started to be turned over from the Navy. The Base Realignment Commission (BRAC)  placed us on the closure list in 2005, and it's just now happening."
Leveque said he thought that the Great State of Maine Air Shows would continue either yearly or every other year. The public likes them and it's good exposure for Brunswick Landing. This year, sadly, was handicapped by the hurricane and the sizable entrance fee.  Levesque said that "The Blue Angels", always a big draw, would return if it was possible to reserve them.  "They are the best in the world, and are a big hit, drawing thousands worldwide. But there are also the Air Force's "Thunderbirds' and the Candian Air Forces     "Snow Birds", both world-class performers , to add to our regular events at the show."
Levesque said that the shows are good for the local economy.  The Blue Angels pay for their own fuel, but Brunswick Landing provides fuel to other performers at the shows.
When asked about other activities, such as the National Hot Rod Show, Levesque said that the site is hampered by the fact that there are active runways, which puts Brunswick Landing under the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration.  "We can't shut down the runways for those kinds of activities," he said.  Government, it seems, will always have a place at the former base.
Levesque was equivocal on the issue of Kestral Aircraft, which had come to Brunswick Landing offering upward of 600 jobs.  Now, Kestral is in negotiations with the state of New Hampshire, because of funding issues that have arisen in the meantime.
In July 2010,Kestral's Alan Klapmeier announced a $100 million project to design and build new Turboprop single engine planes at Brunswick Landing. Levesque said last week that Klapmeier’s decision to locate the new facility in Brunswick was based on a number of factors, including that Wiscasset-based CEI Capital Management (CCML) agreed to assist Kestrel with its financing “in four $20 million” installments through the New Market Tax Credit allocation program.

In April 2011, Kestrel secured the first $20 million allocation, but Klapmeier said last week that the additional funding did not materialize, and as a result, Kestrel was forced to consider building another facility elsewhere — possibly in New Hampshire.
According to Levesque, CCML informed Kestrel in May “that they cannot allocate more than $20 million to the project, leaving a gap of approximately $60 million. “Since then, MRRA has been working with Kestrel, Commissioner Gervais, the governor’s office, Sen. Gerzofsky and others at the state and federal level to convince CCML to do an additional (installment),” locate additional funding or tax credits, and to approve an application by MRRA to become certified to allocate $70 million in New Market Tax Credits.

Levesque said that a satellite center was always part of the deal, and that it was hoped that the satellite would be located in the Saddleback region, but New Hampshire may get the nod for a variety of reasons.  There is currently no comment coming from either the Governor's office nor Kestral, but there are many individuals working to secure tax credits and other support to make Brunswick Kestral's headquarters.

The process of bringing Brunswick Landing fully online will be long and lonely.  Recovery time to replace 6000 jobs will not happen overnight.  The midcoast, and Maine, face a long and arduous road ahead.  
But Brunswick's airport, currently the closest U.S. airport to Europe, may have many different roles to play in her lifetime. 
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