Maine Maritime Academy announced today they have completed the purchase of a 4-acre parcel of land at the former Verso paper mill in Bucksport from owners American Iron and Metal.

The college, which is based in nearby Castine, had signed a purchase-and-sale agreement in November 2018.

The site will be the new Maine Maritime Academy Center for Professional Mariner Development, an annex facility that will provide specialized courses for professional mariners, academy-enrolled students, and workforce development.

The center will meet the demand for courses that enable professional mariners to receive certification and credentialing to meet maritime regulatory and industry-sector demands.

“The Center for Professional Mariner Development will both support MMA’s mission and programs and generate revenue to help support the academy’s financial future,”  MMA President William J. Brennan said.

“This is a public-private venture, which we are building in a phased approach to ensure that we can steward the finite resources MMA has to devote to the enterprise," he said, "while simultaneously cultivating private and other funding sources.”

The new training center includes an existing 20,000-square-foot administration and instruction building, which will house classrooms, offices, training labs, simulator spaces and conference rooms equipped with A/V technology and videoconferencing.

According to a press release from MMA, the college will take occupancy of the property in the fall, following renovation. A state-of-the-art, multi-purpose firefighting training facility will be built and is expected to be operational in the spring of 2020.

“We are so pleased and honored that MMA has chosen Bucksport as the site for its mariner training center,” Susan Lessard said, Bucksport town manager.

“The presence of a nationally recognized institution of higher education in Bucksport opens up opportunities for other entrepreneurs to start businesses here and sets a positive tone for the future for our community," she said. "We look forward to being a good partner for their growth and development."

The multi-purpose fire training facility will also meet the professional development needs of municipalities, counties, and the state in the training of police, wardens, National Guard, and hazardous waste and chemical first-responders. Additionally, the CPMD will provide workforce development training for cargo/dock personnel, shipyard skills such as welding, and electrical safety training.

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