WINSLOW — Town councilors voiced unanimous support Monday to pursue grant money for a major rope manufacturer in town.

Orion Ropeworks Inc., which employs about 50 people in its 148,000-square-foot plant on Benton Avenue, is in the process of buying new manufacturing equipment that will increase production and expand its workforce, according to company president Bob Lucy.

The equipment will cost about $900,000. The company hopes to receive $400,000 from a Maine Community Development Block Grant through the town.

In order to qualify for the grant money, the company must create at least one job for every $30,000 it gets. Lucy said the new equipment will create about 25 jobs.

Orion Ropeworks makes 900 different rope products that are used in boating and commercial fishing equipment, according to its website.

Town Manager Michael Heavener said in February he submitted a letter of intent to the state on Orion’s behalf. The state responded by inviting the town to apply for the grant.

Lucy wouldn’t answer a reporter’s questions about the company at Monday’s meeting.

Also on Monday, the council approved, 5-1, the creation of a tax increment financing district for Lohmann Animal Health International, which manufacturers poultry vaccines and more. President Frank Sterner said the tax break will allow the company to reinvest money into research and development and could help plans to add 45 employees. With tax increment finanancing, known as a TIF district, some of the tax revenue from the company is returned to it for a limited period.

Councilor Steve Russell voted against the TIF, saying it puts an unfair burden on homeowners.

Councilor Kenneth Fletcher said the benefits of long-term job creation far outweigh any reduction of income from property taxes.

Earlier in the meeting, councilors discussed the assets and services the town shares with Waterville and surrounding towns. Heavener said Winslow saves and estimated $3.1 million dollars a year by sharing computer servers, a fire chief, police dispatch services and more.

Waterville Mayor Karen Hack and City Manager Mike Roy attended the meeting.

Councilor Raymond Caron was absent.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

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