Economic Development
Year in Review 2017

2017 was a productive year for Aroostook County economic development efforts.  A new Harbor Freight business opened at the Aroostook Centre Mall, a new Tractor Supply opened in Madawaska, Smith and Wesson expanded in Houlton, the ‘Maine Malt House’ business expanded in Mapleton, a new business ‘ TRP Truck Parts’ opened at Loring which provides both parts and service, the new $3.1M Acme Monaco expansion opened in the Presque Isle Industrial Park, the forest products sector flourished with both Louisiana Pacific & Huber having a great year, and the potato & broccoli crop quality was excellent.  Overall, there was over $160M in business investment and an impressive 243 new jobs created throughout the County which brings our 5-year totals to over $900M in investment and 914 new jobs created. In fact, 2017 saw growth across virtually every sector of our economy from healthcare and agriculture to forestry and manufacturing.  Small business growth was particularly strong as NMDC’s Small Business Development Center Director was nationally recognized for exceeding goals in assisting new business starts.  And at Loring, several businesses are interested in that location, but they will require an anchor business such as aviation to provide the business base to justify their development.
The County also had a lot of exposure and interaction with the rest of Maine in 2017 as the Aroostook Partnership (AP) held their ‘Aroostook Day at the Legislature’ in January with 25 legislators and more than 60 total attendees.  The key topics discussed were the economic benefits of forestry and mining as well as the need for welfare policy revision to enable and incentivize the unemployed to re-enter the labor force.  In February, in coordination with the Maine Development Foundation, we hosted two busloads of legislators for a County tour and economic, demographic and collaboration discussions to give them a better appreciation for Aroostook’s economy and challenges.  Tourism efforts were also more aggressive as AP teamed with the Aroostook County Tourism Board to produce a very attractive and informative tourism map in addition to the revised County Tourism Guide.  And in September, AP hosted a business luncheon with the leaders of the new National Monument to begin a dialogue of how we can work together to bring more attention to the County and the Monument as that project develops.
In Energy, Emera Maine continued to modernize our infrastructure and the two ReEnergy biomass power plants benefited from a power purchase agreement the legislature approved to allow the sale of electricity to the state.  Multiple wind projects and the transmission interconnect worth billions of dollars responded to the Massachusetts clean energy request for proposal and should hear if they were selected in 2018. Unfortunately, ReEnergy notified the system administrator that they may have to shut down in the fall of 2018 if they are unable to get new contracts.  This could greatly impact our forest sector economy as well as the County’s power reliability.   Regarding energy challenges, the Aroostook Energy Association was formed to work with AP and Emera Maine to pursue solutions to enable policies and practices that can maximize the greatest energy stability for County businesses.  The Maine Public Utilities Commission will visit Aroostook in January to hear business concerns and suggested ideas to keep the ReEnergy plants operational and approaches for policy revision consideration.
14 years ago, the ‘Tarnished Crown’ report analyzed the County’s economy and population trends and concluded that the private sector needed to participate in economic development.  That report was the motivation for forming the Partnership.  This year, AP contracted to have this economic analysis updated and the final report entitled ‘Caring for the Crown’ captured both the progress and the challenges, especially with our demographics, that are projected for the County over the next 10 years.  The projections are alarming and a top priority for 2018 will be to determine a strategy and actions to increase engagement to turn around these projections.
Looking forward, the Partnership’s top priority remains growing the County’s future workforce.  Almost every major employer is seeking additional qualified workers and the challenge is growing.  AP is working with our high schools, our local colleges, and our major employers to increase awareness of the existing and projected employment opportunities and promote internships, apprenticeships and company tours throughout Aroostook.  We’ll continue to collaborate with our Chambers of Commerce and agencies like SADC, ACAP, AAI, Junior Achievement, Jobs For Maine Grads, and our Career & Technical Education schools to promote retention efforts.  And in 2018, we intend to reach out to groups such as Empower Aroostook, Momentum Aroostook and young professionals to assist in attraction efforts using social media and our Opportunities Aroostook website.


Employment Tax Increment Financing - ETIF

Eligible Businesses:
Any business that hires a minimum of 5 net new employees within a two year period, where those employees are: 1) paid an income that exceeds the average per capita income in the county of employment; 2) provided access to group health insurance, and; 3) provided access to an ERISA qualified retirement program. The business must also be able to provide written documentation that its expansion project will not go forward without ETIF.
Program Summary:
ETIF is available to assist in the financing of business investment projects that create at least 5 net new, high quality jobs in Maine. An ETIF-approved business would receive 30, 50 or 75 percent of the state income tax withholdings paid by qualified employees for up to ten years. (Qualifying jobs created in a labor market area where the unemployment rate is at or below the state average earn a 30 percent reimbursement, while those with a higher than average unemployment rate earns 50 percent. In areas where the unemployment rate exceeds 150 percent of the state average, the reimbursement is 75 percent.) The percentage of reimbursement is established for a five-year period based upon the unemployment rate at the time of initial application, and again at the beginning of the sixth year. The amount of annual payment is based upon the actual number of qualified employees above the company's base level of employment. The company may not accrue ETIF benefits for any period of time when employment, wages and/or employee benefits fail to meet the minimum qualification criteria. (Please note that ETIF cannot be taken concurrently with the Jobs & Investment Tax Credit.)
Program Valuation Example:
Investment Assumptions
Total Jobs Created
Wage Ranges
$12.50/hr to $16.00/hr
Average Salary
Locational Factors
Area Per Capita Income
Labor Market Area Unemployment Rate
State Unemployment Rate
Effective Tax Rate
ROI & Program Valuation
Number of Qualified ETIF Jobs
Annual Payroll
State Personal Income Tax Liability
ETIF Reimbursement Rate
Annual ETIF Reimbursement

Total Value of ETIF Reimbursements:



 © Aroostook Partnership 2018