Brunswick Development Corporation (BDC) Celebrates New 501(c)(3) Status
Brunswick, Maine USA
The Brunswick Development Corporation (BDC) celebrates the successful completion of its quest to gain non-profit status as a 501(c)(3) organization. The BDC, created in 1995, has a broad mission to “encourage development, combat community deterioration, lessen the burdens of government, provide increased employment and increase the tax base within the Town of Brunswick.” Originally a component unit of the Town of Brunswick, the BDC Board determined in 2013 that it should move towards increased independence for fundraising potential and community visibility. Establishing itself as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation was the keystone effort in this transition.
BDC President, Larissa Darcy, indicates that the application to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was under development for most of 2016 and submitted in January 2017. Approved in late June 2017, the BDC Board has been preparing its new materials and improved access with a website that features an on-line brochure as well as applications for its grant and loan programs. “Historically, the BDC has sought to invest in Brunswick businesses in order to fulfill its mission for increased employment and tax base within the Town,” Ms. Darcy stated. “For example, the BDC has invested in: Gelato Fiasco, which has grown from its launch with its two owners in 2007 to 57 full-time employees currently; Frosty’s Donuts, which has grown from a base of four in 2012 to over 40 full-time employees presently; 128 Maine Street (affiliated with Artforms and Cool As A Moose) which relocated from Westbrook to Brunswick in 2012 and has grown from 26 to 32 full-time employees at this time; and, several other investments from light manufacturing to local restaurants and day spas.”
The BDC also has made small grants to various non-profits in the community. Each grant has been matched dollar for dollar and resulted in new or enhanced community assets, assisting entities such as Brunswick Public Art placing a new sculpture at the Brunswick Train Station / Visitor Center; Seeds of Independence creating new programs to serve local youth; Family Focus purchasing new equipment to serve area children; Brunswick Naval Museum and Memorial Gardens offering its first museum display; and, many other community efforts.
As an economic development partner in the community, the BDC has collaborated on several major business initiatives. Steve Levesque, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority’s (MRRA) Executive Director, credits the BDC as a crucial partner on two recent Brunswick Landing efforts: TechPlace and Wayfair. TechPlace, Brunswick Landing’s Technology Accelerator, supports the small business development needs of early-stage companies in a collaborative environment in the heart of Maine’s Midcoast region. TechPlace gives entrepreneurs a place to network with other innovators, research and develop ideas, build prototypes, test products, assemble, grow, learn, and become successful manufacturing and technology companies. “We needed to provide matching funds to access the federal funds targeted to create TechPlace and the BDC stepped up with a significant contribution,” Steve Levesque stated. “TechPlace had a dozen new companies in the facility within six months of opening its doors in January 2015. It is hosting innovative start-ups in biotech, aviation, information technology and other cutting edge industry clusters. We are extremely proud of TechPlace and its role in Brunswick and the Midcoast region. The BDC helped make this dream a reality.”
In the summer and fall of 2015, Maine & Company, a private non-profit organization that works to attract new companies to Maine, was working with Wayfair, an American e-commerce company that sells home goods. Wayfair was seeking a location for an operation to house approximately 500 employees. These employees would focus on business to business relationships and build a logistics support operation. While Wayfair was reviewing sites all across the country, Maine & Company worked with MRRA, the Town of Brunswick and the State of Maine to build a proposal to attract Wayfair to Brunswick Landing. As a part of the incentive package, the BDC was approached as a partner and agreed to participate in a job creation reimbursement strategy. “While there were many factors that determined Wayfair’s final decision to locate on Brunswick Landing, the willingness of community partners such as the BDC to support the company’s expansion to Brunswick Maine was essential,” stressed Maine & Company’s CEO / President, Peter DelGreco. Wayfair expanded to Brunswick Landing, opening its doors in June 2016 , currently employs over 150 people in its new facility and is undertaking a major expansion.
The BDC has also generated new investment in the downtown Brunswick business arena. The Brunswick Downtown Association received $250,000 to create a downtown façade improvements program. In just three years, that program investment generated a match of over $770,000, resulting in more than $1 million in new outlay in the Brunswick downtown area. Brunswick Downtown Association Executive Director, Debora King, credits the BDC grant as one of the foundations for the downtown’s low vacancy rate. “Businesses, residents and customers saw good things happening on the Maine Street and wanted to be a part of our vibrant environment,” she said. “The downtown look and feel has been vastly improved by the façade improvements the companies have made to match the BDC grant funding.”
The BDC was an active participant in supporting CEI’s decision in 2016 to locate its corporate headquarters to 30 Federal Street. The new headquarters, which are in a platinum certified “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) facility, houses over 65 full time employees who enjoy the benefits of being in the heart of the Brunswick downtown.
“The 501(c)(3) non-profit status means that we can actively seek additional funds, which are now tax-deductible, to continue our commitment to growing Brunswick businesses and contributing to the vitality of the Brunswick community,” Ms. Darcy pointed out.