Maine businessman and philanthropist Donald Sussman, a resident of North Haven, gave Penobscot East Resource Center a building on the Stonington waterfront that will become the nonprofit’s new home.

The newly renovated 7,129 square foot, two-story building at 13 Atlantic Avenue is on a pier in the heart of the Stonington community, according to a press release from Penobscot East Resource Center (PERC).

To customize the interior to accommodate PERC’s current needs and future growth plans, Sussman’s construction team spent eight months completely remodeling the building. Mark Billings represented the donor on the project; Jeremy Stewart of Stewart Construction was general contractor and Chug Proper the crew foreman.

An official opening celebration for the building will be held on July 18, after PERC is fully settled in its new home.

“I am honored and proud to support Penobscot East and their efforts to strengthen and diversify Maine’s marine economy,” Donald Sussman said, in the press release. “Make no mistake, their impact is widely felt. Every small success here in Stonington creates a ripple effect that lifts communities and local economies across the state.  Enjoy your new home and thanks for all you are doing to help Maine families thrive!”

Penobscot East Resource Center is a non-profit organization established in 2003 to secure a future for the fishing communities of eastern Maine. The center builds alliances among fishermen and community members, fosters community-based science projects, and works to strengthen and diversify marine economies.

In addition to staff offices, intern work spaces, and meeting rooms there is a dedicated fishermen’s room with off-hours access for local fishermen, a view of the harbor and a perpetual coffee pot brewing, a large conference room with a full kitchen, and a public education area accessible from the waterside. Mike Sealander, of Sealander Architects in Ellsworth, designed the building’s interior layout to Penobscot East’s specifications.

“This wonderfully generous gift honors not just fishermen of Deer Isle, but the vision of sustainable fishing communities throughout eastern Maine,” said Robin Alden, PERC’s executive director, in the press release. “It is a visible statement that taking care of marine resources and the fishing families who pursue them is a necessary part of the future. We view this as a community building from the beginning – starting with the fishermen’s room, our public educational space and the beautiful conference room”. 

Penobscot East has matured in seven years from modest beginnings with a two-person staff in the executive director’s living room, moving to old Stonington Elementary School building in 2004. The organization now supports a full-time staff of seven, between one and three college interns at any one time, and additional staff when the Zone C Lobster Hatchery is in operation. While lobster production at the hatchery is suspended for 2010, the monitoring of resettled hatchery-reared lobsters and other lobster enhancements continue. PERC’s other initiatives include a year-round fishermen’s leadership training program in communities from Penobscot Bay to Eastport, and the Downeast Groundfish Initiative. The groundfish program operates a fisheries management sector, a permit bank, and a sentinel fishery research project now investigating the status of groundfish stocks in the eastern Gulf of Maine.

“This facility will help us fulfill our mission to secure a future for the fishing communities in eastern Maine by providing us with a permanent home that is an integral part of the working waterfront,” said Walter Reed, board chairman for PERC. “We sincerely thank Mr. Sussman and look forward to the bright and productive future that this gift has helped make possible.”

For further information, please contact Veronica Young Associate Director at (207) 367-2708 or