Erin Winschel, left, from Humble Family Farms at 245 Center St. in Auburn, talks with Erika Gardner, of Auburn Tuesday afternoon at the new cannabis store. Gardner said she came to look for topicals for her husband, a marathon runner. She also said she has switched from pharmeceuticals to cannabis products to treat her ailments. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This week the Buzz is buying, building and budding.

First up: Three new cannabis storefronts — two of them awaiting approval — and one move.

In Lewiston, Black Cat Cannabis and Wreck Department II received change of use permits in October and started renovations.

Black Cat is doing an $80,000 renovation at 25 Sabattus St. and Wreck II a $23,000 renovation at 1384 Lisbon St., according to city records.

David Hediger, Lewiston’s director of planning and code enforcement, said approval is pending for both shops. Black Cat has proposed selling for recreational use and Wreck Department II for medicinal.

On the other side of town, Crystal Spring Healing Alternatives at 675 Main St., which sells medical marijuana, is moving across the street to 694 Main St. at the end of the month. The site is the former Rooper’s Beverage and Redemption, which recently moved up Main Street to the former Neokraft Signs building, which moved across town last year one-third of a mile away from the future home of the Wreck II.

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Such a small world.

Samuel Scalia, one of the owners of Crystal Spring, said they’ve been in their current space for two years and the move gives the shop more room and easier parking lot access.

And leaping across the river, Humble Family Farms has opened a medical marijuana storefront at 245 Center St. in Auburn after receiving a city business license and sign permit last month.

Spokeswoman Laura Mills said the company is based out of central Maine and chose Auburn for its first store to keep things local.

“We have plans to expand to more locations in the future, but we felt the location was perfect for us at this time,” she said.

The shop has started with five new hires and two existing employees in managerial roles.

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“We are probably going to be hiring more in the New Year after we have a better idea of what our needs will be to serve our patients,” she said.

And staying in Auburn . . .

The Cote Corp. at 2980 Hotel Road, they of the massive cranes, is putting up a massive 70- by 170-foot tension fabric structure. The project cost $517,000 between the building and foundation, according to city permits.

CEO Dan Cote Sr. said Tuesday that it will be used for storage and gives the company flexibility since it’s movable.

Lastly, staying after a close call in Lewiston . . .

After Jones & Vining’s corporate owners notified customers that the longtime Webster Street plant was closing in September, city officials asked the owners of Elmet Technologies if they’d have any interest in investing in — and ultimately rescuing — the operation.

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They did.

The plant reopened as Poly Labs last week.

Peter Anania of Anania & Associates, the new owners, said employment had dwindled to 29 people at the end.

The plant, with roots back to shoemaking, makes polyurethane and injection-molded components for industrial, medical and military use, even making padding in helmets worn in the National Football League.

“Jones & Vining wanted to focus on footwear and this plant was not core to what they were doing,” Anania said Tuesday. “They weren’t paying that much attention to it, which hurt the economics.”

After connecting with the city’s Lincoln Jeffers, who had worked with the investment company during its Elmet purchase five years ago, Anania said they looked at the plant and found a “good workforce and good quality products.”

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“(We) did a little due diligence with the customers,” he said. “All the customers wanted to keep the operation going and quite a few of them wanted it made in the USA, so all of those things combined helped us to make the decision to do it.”

The plan now is to get materials in, restart operations with those 29 employees and hopefully over the next year, he said, get back to pre-COVID employment levels of 70 or more.

The new company’s full, formal name: Polymer Laboratories and Solutions. A news release credited several groups with helping make it happen, including the city, Finance Authority of Maine, company management and customers that include Bose Corp. and H.F. Staples.

Jeffers, Lewiston’s director of economic and community development, said he was “glad that they got as excited about it over time as I was hoping they would.”

“They’re really good business people and it’s about more than the money — it’s about saving jobs and really adding to the vitality of a community,” he said.

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]

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