CALAIS – A white paper detailing the potential opportunities for the Calais and Baileyville business parks has just been released.

The proposed new third bridge between St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and Calais plays a major role in the discussion.

Two bridges, the downtown Ferry Point Bridge and the Milltown Bridge, near the Calais Industrial Park, serve Calais. Construction on a third bridge, near the city’s industrial park, is expected to start this year.

John Holden of Eastern Maine Development Corp. prepared the white paper.

A public meeting has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday, March 16, at Washington County Community College.

City Manager Linda Pagels said the city obtained a $10,000 grant to pay for the study. She said it was important to market the downtown before the new bridge was built and to look at the marketing potentials for the industrial parks in Baileyville, Calais and St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and the port in Eastport.

Judy East, executive director of the Washington County Council of Governments, agreed. She said in her update on the Calais-Baileyville plan that the managers of the parks on both sides of the border were working on a plan to jointly market the region’s industrial parks.

There is growing interest in developing stronger economic development and business ties between Maine and Atlantic Canada, the white paper said.

Many of the larger firms and landowners in eastern Maine have links to Canada. “Emera-Bangor Hydro, Irving Oil … and Domtar [Inc.] are the largest,” Holden said. “Local business and political leaders have indicated that cross-border business in the Calais and St. Stephen [New Brunswick] areas continues to be strong.”

Domtar Inc.’s pulp and paper mill in Baileyville is Washington County’s largest employer.

Canadian firms have expressed interest in new business opportunities in Maine. “The U.S. is generally and commonly known as a key market for many firms in Atlantic Canada,” the white paper said.

Recently the formal recognition of the importance of ties between northern New England and Atlantic Canada culminated in the multinational region being called “Atlantica.”

“Atlantica has become more than a name and concept through the efforts of the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce and its member organizations,” the white paper said. “A core to the Atlantic vision is the concept of trade corridors that serve as the backbone for commerce.”

In 2003, a Halifax-Moncton trade corridor was announced.

In the next few months a planning project will detail a trade coordinator between Bangor and Saint John, New Brunswick.

Helping to make the connection between Maine and New Brunswick is the new third bridge located on Route 1.

When the state and federal governments first announced plans to build a bridge they considered three sites, including one in Baileyville, but eventually settled on Calais.

Issued before the final site for a third bridge was selected, another study conducted earlier for the Baileyville Business Park suggested that “regardless of the crossing site eventually chosen, the transborder traffic will flow close by the Baileyville Park.”

With the exchange rate favoring Canada, the white paper said, the two parks offer locations for warehousing, distribution and logistics for trade in both directions.

Among the primary markets that might be pursued for development are warehouses and distribution facilities. Among those recommended are: furniture and wood pallet manufacturing, wood pulp trans-loading, and vegetable products warehousing and distribution.

Opportunities exist for both parks if they are marketed as “logistic parks.” Among the services that could be offered:

  • Value-added logistics centers can offset higher manufacturing costs in industrialized countries and make them more attractive business locations.
  • Reducing the overall order-to-deliver time is the No. 1 goal of many companies today.
  • The evolution of the digital trade and transportation network is making many secondary and tertiary markets more competitive for logistics centers.
  • Noncoastal gateway cities are emerging as preferred logistics hubs because of their ability to bypass many of the congestion-related problems of coastal hubs.