FILE — The sun sets behind the control tower of the former Loring Air Force Base, Saturday, July 18, 2020, in Limestone, Maine. Credit: David Sharp / AP

LIMESTONE, Maine – A Maine-based development corporation wants to launch the first major overhaul of the former Loring Air Force Base since the 1990s.

Green 4 Maine LLC has acquired approximately 450 acres and 150,000 square feet of buildings from the Loring Development Authority, which manages a 3,800-acre industrial park on the former base.

Within 10 years, Green 4 Maine wants to develop its land into a major workforce hub with thousands of new jobs, and will start this year to renovate former military housing for workforce residences. If the company reaches its lofty goals, the investment could spark a large-scale economic revitalization for a region that has struggled to retain major employers in the past decade.

Per an agreement with the Loring Development Authority, Green 4 Maine can purchase more land if it succeeds in bringing in at least 75 new full-time jobs, said authority president and CEO Carl Flora.

“Green 4 Maine offers a great vision and plan that has the potential to create new jobs,” Flora said. “This could be a new chapter for Loring.”

Flora did not disclose the purchase price.

Green 4 Maine wants to see 20 to 30 new businesses take advantage of Loring land and the former airport runway, said Scott Hinkel, founder and managing director of the company.

The corporation hopes on-site housing and the development authority’s new marketing campaign will entice new employers and attract local workers. The corporation is reaching out to local, regional and national companies who might want to occupy the 15 vacant buildings on the newly acquired land, Hinkel said.

Loring will mark Green 4 Maine’s first venture into Aroostook County. The group previously partnered with companies in southern Maine on manufacturing development, Hinkel said.

The corporation focuses primarily on aerospace and aircraft production opportunities, including companies that could utilize artificial intelligence in their manufacturing. Green 4 Maine plans to produce all its energy at Loring within five years with renewable energy projects, according to its website.

This year, Green 4 Maine will start renovating three buildings that formerly housed members of the U.S. Air Force and their families. Once those renovations are complete, the company plans to construct between 600 and 750 new apartments. Eventually Green 4 Maine hopes to build between 500 and 1,000 tiny homes for people working at Loring.

The construction is expected to create at least 75 temporary jobs, Hinkel said.

Green 4 Maine will call its new development Green 4 Maine at Loring.

“We are essentially creating a community,” Hinkel said. “We’re an inclusive campus for working and living that will stimulate the local economy in Aroostook.”

Green 4 Maine coincides with plans by DG Fuels, a Washington D.C.-based company, to build a $4 billion facility on 1,240 acres of Loring Development Authority land. DG Fuels has said the sustainable aviation fuel facility will create 2,300 construction jobs and 650 permanent jobs when it opens.

As Green 4 Maine’s venture progresses, the company wants to acquire the land that DG Fuels’ facility will sit on, and if larger-scale development succeeds it intends to purchase the remaining 2,100 acres of Limestone Development Authority land, Hinkel said.

Future projects could include an outdoor concert venue and collaborations between Green 4 Maine and Maine’s university and community college systems, he said.

In the past decade, companies like Maine Military Authority, Hydroblend and Sitel shuttered their facilities on the former base, eliminating more than 700 jobs. Defense Finance Accounting Service is the development authority’s largest employer, with nearly 600 positions.

The Loring Commerce Centre employs 750 people at 30 businesses, including Defense Finance Accounting Service, SFE Manufacturing, Loring Job Corps Center, the Limestone Country Club and the Bunker Inn.

The development authority also plans to launch major wastewater system and road upgrades, which they hope will make the former base more inviting for future employers.