LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As Baxter Brewing Company begins construction of its $2 million expansion, Lewistoncity officials say it's the kind of downtown economic development they want to encourage.
The brewery in theBates Mill Complex will be expanding space by 400 percent, and doubling its staff by April.
"It's been a crazy couple years, definitely, but it's beenexciting," saidFounder and President Luke Livingston, who just celebrated the company's two-year anniverarylast week.
CityCouncilors in both Lewiston and Auburn expressed support for downtown economic development in a joint city council meeting this Monday.
Councilors discussed the possibility of creating a joint downtown manager position.
"It's really taking somebody who has the time and energy to focus wholly and solely on the downtown," said Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston Economic and Community Development Director.
He said investments like Baxter's are part of a growing trend in Lewiston/Auburn economic development.
Jeffers said between 2000 and 2009, new downtown investments accounted for about half of all new investments locally, about $212 million out of $432 million.
He said since 2010, new downtown investments account for nearly 70 percent of all new investments, about $82 million out of $121 million, creatingMain Street momentum they want to grow.
As Baxter begins its third year in operations, and more entrepreneurs move downtown, it's an area where business is brewing.
"There is no better time, no more exciting time, to be a part of what's happening downtown," said Livingston.