Delegates from U.S. Department of Commerce visit Auburn Manufacturing

·3 min read

Jul. 26—Chief executive officer Kathie Leonard and her team at Auburn Manufacturing Inc. hosted a large delegation from the U.S. Department of Commerce last week at its Auburn site.

It was an information-gathering stop for the group of 12, many of whom have been working remotely for more than two years and have had no in-person contact with businesses and owners like Leonard, who they are charged with protecting. Lisa Wang, assistant secretary of commerce for enforcement and compliance, led the team.

AMI successfully challenged the Chinese in 2016 over dumping of silica fabric, a core product AMI has made for decades, filing a complaint with the Commerce Department and winning its case in 2017. Permanent tariffs were imposed on Chinese manufacturers, but Leonard is worried they're already trying to game the system and has shared that information with the government.

Leonard said the Commerce Department visit represents a positive development for small to medium enterprises like AMI. "Their purpose is to find ways in which they can help us, help companies like us, get through these processes, without having huge amounts of money being spent to do it," she said. AMI spent more than $500,000 pursuing its case against the Chinese, not something most small to medium-sized companies can afford to do.

"You know, make the path clear that you can go directly to enforcement and compliance," Leonard added. "They even gave us some names ... they want us to contact, so that you could just call them up and say 'Hey guys, we're having this issue. This is what we see.'" It's a change, Leonard explained, in how the Commerce Department is working at the ground level, which she sees as a positive start.

Another supply chain hiccup nearly caused a creton crisis in Lewiston and Auburn. Hannaford and other outlets that carry creton from Mailhot Sausage Company in Lewiston were out of stock late last week, but a call to the source confirmed "there is no creton crisis." It turns out they didn't run out of creton, but rather the containers the French-Canadian pork pate is sold in. Their order for 100,000 10-ounce cups arrived late — but better than not at all.

Creton is ground or shredded pork usually cooked with onions, spices and herbs in pork fat (optional), garlic, milk or water and breadcrumbs, and is enjoyed on toast points, crostini or crackers. There are as many recipes for creton as there are French-Canadian families. It's common in Quebec cuisine and is eaten for breakfast by some, as a snack or with charcuterie by others.

No matter how you prefer it, it is once again available in the greater Lewiston-Auburn area.

The Ramada by Wyndham Lewiston Hotel & Conference Center, located at 490 Pleasant St., has been sold to Emerald Hospitality, LLC.

The hotel has 15,000 square feet of event space space with 10 meeting rooms, which can accommodate up to 600 conference or banquet guests. Emerald Hospitality is listed with the Maine Secretary of State's Office as a foreign limited liability corporation, meaning it is registered to do business in Maine but was incorporated in a different state, in this case New York.

The property was listed for sale with the Daigle Commercial Group at $6.445 million. The actual sale price is undisclosed.

Attempts to reach the new owners have so far been unsuccessful.