The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce is a business association of some 650 businesses, industries and organizations in the greater Augusta region, southern Kennebec County. The Chamber’s teamwork approach is key in building a stronger economy, better business environment and higher quality of life for the 70,000 citizens in the 21-community area.
While government provides nearly four of every 10 jobs in the region, other large employers include major distribution companies, health organizations, the state’s largest electric utility headquarters, financial institutions, growing retail centers and statewide association headquarters.
Manufacturers include Alternative Manufacturing (computer components), Kenway Corp. (paper industry products, boats and specialty composites), Kennebec Technologies (high-tech and space products), Bolduc Technologies (drive-by-wire products for vehicles) and a number of wood products specialists.
The area is headquarters for the state’s largest electric utility, Central Maine Power Company, and includes major distributors such as NRF Distributors (flooring), PFG NorthCenter, Progressive Distributors and Pine State Trading (food service companies).
Health services in this central part of the state are provided by Waterville and Augusta campuses of MaineGeneral Health, which includes a teaching unit associated with Dartmouth Medical School. MaineGeneral opened the state-of-the-art Alfond Cancer Care Center in Augusta in 2007 and is now constructing a new $300 million regional hospital in Augusta. Other health facilities include VA Maine Healthcare System, Home Resources of Maine, HealthReach Network home services and a number of others.
Bright Future: The Capital area has grown significantly in retail business in the past decade with the addition of some major new retailers and redevelopment of others. Hannaford Supermarkets manages five large grocery stores and a large distribution center in the Augusta Micropolitan. In 2009, Hannaford built the world’s first Platinum LEED grocery in the center of the Capital. The Marketplace at Augusta is the largest open-air shopping mall north of Boston with about 1.3 million square feet of retail space and significant expansions planned.
In late 2007, Augusta Crossing stores opened another 450,000 square feet of retail space, including Target and Lowe’s. Consumer retail sales in the Augusta Micropolitan total about $900 million.
Augusta boasts several modern business parks; Gardiner opened a very successful industrial park in 1999 and Winthrop has refurbished an old downtown woolen mill housing MaineGeneral Medical Care Center and a mix of tenants.
FirstPark Hosts T-Mobile
The large telecommunications company, T-Mobile, selected FirstPark for the home of a new U.S. call center where as many as 850 Maine people have been employed. FirstPark is a high-tech business development center created by the Kennebec Regional Development Authority (KRDA). Twenty-four cities and towns in Kennebec and Somerset counties collaborated to build “Maine’s premiere technology park” in Oakland, just off I-95. A number of professional offices have been built in the park with opportunity to build out to some 3,000 quality jobs.
FirstPark seeks to entice high-tech, communications, research & development, insurance/finance and other new economy businesses to help create a quality job center. FirstPark completed the $5 million business park site in 2001.