The Loring Commerce Centre has evolved into a commercial, industrial and aviation park that is home to nearly 30 businesses and employers in diverse fields ranging from manufacturing to education and back-office support.
Working through a dramatic event such as a closure of a military installation is never easy, but the Loring Development Authority (LDA) continues its efforts as diligently and eager today as when it was first stood-up soon after the closure announcement in 1991. From the late 1990s through 2010, many employers were added to the new Loring Commerce Centre creating more than 1,500 new jobs. Beginning in 2009, economic conditions forced some business closures and downsizing which reduced Loring’s job numbers to approximately 800 – about 60 percent of the civilian jobs lost when the base closed. As a result of this setback, a new cycle of development efforts has been undertaken and new activity is now underway. Some of the primary tenants at Loring include the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Maine Military Authority, the Loring Job Corps Center, Loring Industries and New England Kenworth, a truck dealership. The LDA has had some success with aviation and is currently working on a potentially large aviation project.
Loring Air Force Base (AFB), originally established in 1947, was one of the largest Strategic Air Command bases in the country. Its location was pivotal during the Cold War because it was closer to targets in the European portion of the Soviet Union than any other part of the continental United States.
The 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the closure of Loring AFB, resulting in the loss of 1,311 civilian jobs. At the time, the annual civilian and military payroll for the base was $80 million. The job loss reduced the regional population by approximately 15 percent.
The local communities of Limestone, Caribou, Caswell, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle, Van Buren, Aroostook County, and the State of Maine initially worked through the Loring Readjustment Committee to coordinate local closure and adjustment activities. The LDA was established by the State to oversee all reuse activities at the installation and is comprised of members from the impact area and beyond. The LDA works closely to coordinate reuse actions with the readjustment activities being undertaken around the former installation. The LRC undertook most of the initial planning activities for the installation. With the inception of the LDA, a final reuse plan was approved calling for a mixed-use redevelopment program. Although the installation includes a significant airfield and supporting facilities, it was determined that a public airport was not a feasible alternative.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Services center, located in a 145,000 square foot building, expanded and employs approximately 600 people, providing a significant source of quality jobs for the region.
The Loring Job Corps Center welcomed its first of 380 students in January 1997. Job Corps provides training in building and automotive trades, recreation and outdoor wilderness trades, accounting, painting, web page design, commercial driver’s license, and certified nurse’s aide programs. Operated by the Career Systems Development Corporation, the Center now employs about 130 people.
The Maine Military Authority, in cooperation with the Maine Army National Guard, established a military vehicle refurbishment center at Loring. At one time the center employed over 500 people, but its growth was reversed as military contracts gradually diminished and ultimately disappeared. Now growing again, the Maine Military Authority, in collaboration with Loring Industries, LLC, has begun overhauling civilian transport equipment such as buses.
Loring is home to several internet-based businesses and hosts a data center and several manufacturing companies.
Loring’s aviation facilities have been used in support of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul, several research and development projects involving aircraft testing, aircraft storage and disassembly, and parts warehousing.
The LDA has worked with the State legislature to extend legislation allowing a portion of the income taxes derived from workers at the base to be retained by the LDA to offset its service delivery and base reuse expenses.
Updated October 2017