An aerial view of the Loring Commerce Center in Limestone. Developer Green 4 Maine and artificial intelligence company Eternal Minds introduced plans on April 27 to build a first-of-its-kind quantum computing center there this year. Credit: Courtesy of Loring Development Authority

A research center dedicated to an emerging field in artificial intelligence will soon come to Limestone.

Next week, Kennebunk-based Eternal Mind, an artificial intelligence startup company, will begin renovations for a first quantum computing research center at the former Loring Air Force Base. The company initially claimed it would be the world’s first such data center but later confirmed it would only be the first in Maine.

“This is the beginning of the first large-scale technology company for Maine,” said Eternal Mind CEO Avery Thomas.

Founded in 2021, Eternal Mind is the first company that Green 4 Maine, which owns part of the former base, has recruited to help revitalize Loring as an aerospace and technology hub.

The base closed in 1994, with 3,800 of its 9,000 acres becoming the Loring Commerce Centre, operated by Loring Development Authority. In recent years, major industrial and manufacturing facilities have left, eliminating more than 700 jobs.

Earlier this year, Maine-based development corporation Green 4 Maine purchased 450 acres from Loring Development Authority. They promised to create new housing and bring hundreds of jobs to the region within the next decade. Before coming to Aroostook County, the group had worked on manufacturing development in southern Maine.

Eternal Mind hopes to create at least 30 to 50 new jobs at Loring and open its research center by the end of this year. If they succeed, Green 4 Maine will be on its way to fulfilling a major promise for Loring.

The corporation must create at least 75 new jobs before acquiring more Loring land, per its agreement with Loring Development Authority.

“I think this is a piece to an overall development effort,” said Carl Flora, president and CEO of Loring Development Authority. “Eternal Mind can provide good technology-oriented jobs for the region.”

Quantum computers digitally simulate physics and biological processes. Since quantum computing is a form of artificial intelligence, which seeks to emulate aspects of human cognition, it is helpful to scientists researching new medicines, Thomas said.

“If scientists are researching a potential new drug, quantum computers can mimic the effects of those drugs on human bodies,” Thomas said. “Quantum computers model these effects after multiple days, whereas traditional computers can do the same simulations within multiple months.”

Eternal Mind’s data center will be located on nearly 5 acres of land on the corner of Cupp and Northcutt roads at Loring. The building once housed an Air Force data center, which compiled classified military data and closed in 2017.

Eternal Mind is the second company to announce an investment in Loring recently.

Washington D.C.-based DG Fuels said in November it will build a $4 billion facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel. The 1,240 acres DG Fuels will sit on is still owned by Loring Development Authority, but Green 4 Maine has expressed interest in acquiring the site.

Eternal Mind chose Loring because of the building’s existing digital infrastructure and the expansive surrounding land that could enable future growth, Thomas said. The company wants northern Maine to be on the edge of technological innovation.

“Quantum computing is still very new. There are only a few players on the West Coast, like Google, IBM and Microsoft,” Thomas said. “We’ll be competing with those companies.”

Green 4 Maine President Scott Hinkel was not immediately available for comment.