It’s a good thing Cory Guimond doesn’t believe in omens.

Guimond, a third generation boat builder from northern New Brunswick, moved his Millennium Marine business to Eastport, and despite an open house being pushed back because of the remnants of Hurricane Arthur and then a fire, he’s confident about the future.

That confidence, and the move, comes in part because of the economic advantages of manufacturing in the U.S. At least 80 percent of the company’s market is in this country, Guimond said. Millennium was founded in 2002 and produces both recreation and work boats from 25- to 52-feet. Many are shipped by land to the West Coast and are used for fishing and law enforcement.

With help from the $1.4 million federal economic development grant awarded to Eastport to redevelop the former Guilford mill plant, the long-vacant building is now equipped for building Fiberglas boats.

With Maine’s and Eastport’s long tradition of boatbuilding, Guimond expects to find and train a workforce that is projected to grow up to 50 within a year. City Manager Larry Post is optimistic about the role Millennium will play in Eastport’s growth. The city, through a state work-force development grant, provided funds for training and payroll in the early stages of operation.

A ribbon cutting celebration was held on July 4th, but a public open house had to be canceled twice, the first due to Hurricane Arthur and the second after a July 23 fire severely damaged two in-progress vessels and a work bay. The open house will be held sometime next year.

After the fire, deemed to be caused by a spontaneous combustion in one of the boats, a limited crew went right back to work. Guimond is confident the business will be back to full operation within a month or two and he is now expanding the search for skilled labor. At present, there are 14 full time employees.

Guimond said he made a commitment to the area. The company recently dedicated support to the Lost Fisherman’s Memorial in Lubec. For every boat sold in the next year, Millennium will donate up to $5,000.

Coverage of Washington County is supported by a grant from the Eaton Foundation.