Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Once known mainly for the manufacture of shoes and textiles, Lewiston and Auburn today possess a diversified economic base in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. Androscoggin County has transformed itself to a progressive tourism and high-precision manufacturing powerhouse. Health care is the largest industry in the Lewiston-Auburn area, providing more than 6,800 healthcare-related jobs. Textile manufacturers have diversified their products to include industrial, commercial, and construction fabrics, while shoe manufacturers now produce lower volume but higher quality products.
The food and beverage industry is another growing economic sector in Androscoggin County, with major companies like Poland Spring Bottling Co., White Rock Distilleries, Lepage Bakeries, and Angostura International, Federal Distributors, Central Distributors, and Seltzer & Rydholm having facilities in the area.
Other companies in the Lewiston area include Formed Fiber Technologies, an auto parts manufacturer for companies such as General Motors and Toyota; Tambrands, a Procter & Gamble plant that makes feminine hygiene products; Panolam Industries, which makes laminated countertops and other surfaces; and Diamond Phoenix Corporation, a company that manufactures carousels, sorting/picking systems, and robotics for companies such as Boeing, Hallmark, and Lockheed Martin. In addition, retail company L.L. Bean has a telephone operations center in Lewiston, and Giger, one of the nation's largest privately owned promotional products companies, continues to print its annual Farmer's Almanac.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development reported that in 2002 the Lewiston-Auburn area led the state in economic development activity, and placed second in job creation. Both cities are a travel center for their section of the state and benefit from tourism.
Items and goods produced: shoes and textiles; electrical, food, metal, plastic, and printed products; ductware; dampers; high power radio frequency components
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Businesses
Both Lewiston and Auburn have track records in assisting companies with various programs and incentives, depending upon the number and quality of jobs retained. The Lewiston Economic Growth Council acts as a local liaison with local and state development agencies on behalf of interested businesses. The council also offers site search assistance by helping companies locate appropriate buildings and/or land, in conjunction with local government, real estate brokers, and private developers. Lewiston's Economic and Community Development Department also extends a variety of services to local businesses, including commercial financing, streamlined review and permitting processes, and municipally owned business park sites.
The Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council offers a number of services to local businesses, including technical assistance, commercial financing, site searches, and marketing. Since the council's inception, it has leveraged almost $45 million in new local investments through financing programs. Its Economic Stimulus Loan Pool provides eligible businesses with loans up to $150,000 to be used for site purchase and development, construction, machinery and equipment, and working capital. The Micro-Enterprise Loan Program, for businesses with five or fewer employees, offers loans up to $25,000 for site purchases, construction, and equipment purchases.
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) assists economic development by providing capital for business, industrial, and natural resources enterprises through a wide variety of programs, including loan insurance grants, targeted lending, and taxable and tax-exempt bonds. FAME's Economic Recovery Loan Program offers subordinate financing to assist businesses in their efforts to remain viable and/or improve productivity; loans of up to $200,000 are available.
Job training programs
Through the State of Maine's Governor's Training Initiative, local businesses are eligible for partial reimbursement of training costs incurred through recruitment, assessment, workplace safety, workplace literacy, and technical training. The Maine Quality Center, in conjunction with the Maine Technical College System, provides training for workers at qualified Maine businesses. The center offers trainee recruitment, employer-specific training programs, and pre-employment screening. To participate in these programs, businesses must create at least eight new jobs which are at a high skill and wage level.
In recent years, Lewiston has seen a number of development projects come to fruition. With healthcare playing a vital role in the area's economy, local healthcare facilities continue to be expanded and improved. Central Maine Health-care launched its multi-million dollar Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute, a cardiac care center providing open-heart surgery and angioplasty procedures. Other infrastructure investments at Central Maine Medical Center include a parking garage, office expansions, and a new home for its nursing and radiology schools. St. Mary's Regional Medical Center recently built the Corinne Croteau Lepage Women's Health Pavilion; the $6 million facility is the first of its kind in Maine.
City officials are also planning for a $20 million downtown project anchored by Oxford Networks, Northeast Bank, and a campus of Andover College. The project will see the creation of two new office buildings, a new parking garage, underground utilities, new sidewalks, new streetlights, and new landscaping. The project will serve as the central hub for a state-of-the-art fiber-optic telecommunication system that will serve both Lewiston and Auburn.
Another upcoming development project in the Lewiston area is the creation of a new $45 million Wal-Mart Distribution Center, which will employ 150 to 400 people. The center will service Wal-Mart grocery stores in northern New England.
Economic Development Information: Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council, 95 Park St., PO Box 1188, Lewiston, ME 04243; telephone (207)784-0161. Lewiston Department of Economic and Community Development, 27 Pine St., 3rd Fl., Lewiston, ME 04240; telephone (207)784-2951. Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), 5 Community Dr., PO Box 949, Augusta, ME 04332; telephone (207)623-3263.
Lewiston-Auburn is conveniently situated on the Maine Turnpike; exits 12 and 13 provide direct routes into the area's industrial parks. Several trucking companies operate with both interstate and intrastate authority. Rail service is available through the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, which operates a double-stack intermodal transportation facility in Auburn. In addition, Guildford Rail runs a regional rail system with daily switching service and loading dock facilities. The Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport provides charter service to locations in the U.S. and Canada; the area is also only 38 miles away from Portland International Jetport. Portland Harbor, 40 minutes away from Lewiston, accommodates large ships with roll-on, roll-off docks and container handling capability.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
The local labor force boasts a strong reputation for skill and commitment with access to superior educational resources. Industry Week magazine once named Lewiston-Auburn the strongest manufacturing area in New England, based on productivity, specialization, and employment. Thanks to Lewiston-Auburn's central location, local employers are able to draw upon a talented workforce from the surrounding area—nearly 50 percent of the state's population is within a 30-mile radius.
The area provides many opportunities for workers to pursue education and job training—local options include six colleges, a hospital-sponsored nursing program, and an adult education program. The Maine Quality Center provides employer-specific training programs and trainee recruitment, while Auburn's Central Maine Technical College offers courses to employers at the worksite or on campus.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 48,000
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 2,700
trade, transportation, and utilities: 9,900
financial activities: 3,000
professional and business services: 4,900
educational and health services: 10,000
leisure and hospitality: 3,500
other services: 1,300
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.97 (statewide average)
Unemployment rate: 5.5% (February 2005)
Cost of Living
The average price of a single-family home in Lewiston ranges from $78,000 to $100,000.
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Lewiston-Auburn area.
2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported
2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported
State income tax rate: a graduated income tax rate from 2.0% to 8.5% of federal adjusted gross income with modifications.
State sales tax rate: 5.0%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: None
Property tax rate: $27.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation (2004)
Economic Information: Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council, 95 Park St., PO Box 1188, Lewiston, ME 04243; telephone (207)784-0161
Discuss this city on our active forum.