FARMINGTON – Selectmen plan to discuss turning the Abbott Hill Business Center, formerly the MBNA building, into a Pine Tree Development Zone at tonight’s meeting.

The move would help attract business to the property, said Alison Hagerstrom of Greater Franklin Development Corp., the nonprofit that owns the building.

Designating properties Pine Tree Development Zones makes them exempt from some types of sales tax, Town Manager Richard Davis said Monday. According to a state business development Web site, the designation also makes businesses in the zones eligible for a variety of tax credits and reimbursements. The program is designed to stimulate business in technology, medical and other sectors in Maine, Davis said.

When MBNA shut down the Abbott Hill call center last spring, 100 jobs were lost. Greater Franklin Development Corp. bought the property in an effort to bring jobs back into the area, Hagerstrom said.

“They (Greater Franklin) want to have this designation for the building to make it more attractive to potential businesses,” Davis said. The designation won’t negatively affect town revenues at all, he added.

“We think it will help our efforts finding a tenant for that building,” Hagerstrom said. “We’ve had interested parties, and of course that question always comes up – is it a Pine Tree Zone?”

There has been interest in the building from a variety of businesses, Hagerstrom said, but no deals have been finalized. “I’m not losing hope – far from it,” she said. “We do have some serious clients.”

“But regardless, it would be a good thing to have the building in a Pine Tree Zone. It would help attract (more) business,” she added.



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