APP


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.

 

Education

In Aroostook County, we understand that education is the cornerstone of success and prosperity. We are continually reinvesting in and seeking ways to enhance our excellent learning infrastructure. From K-12, to advanced technical training, to undergraduate programs in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Aroostook County offers residents ample opportunity for a lifetime of learning. The county is also host to State-financed customized training and apprenticeship programs to help workers adapt to the evolving labor market.

Primary & Secondary Education
The people of Aroostook County know that our children are our greatest responsibility and our wisest investment. Our schools have been rated among the best in the country, having received several state and national recognition awards. Aroostook also has the lowest high school drop out rate in New England and the highest percentage of students going on to higher education. Notable achievements include:

  • According to Education Week, Maine 's primary school system is ranked in the top ten in the country.
  • Maine is tied for 1st place in the nation in the proportion of 8th graders with high scores in reading.
  • Maine has been named as one of the five "smartest states" in the country based on the quality of its public elementary and secondary schools.
  • There is one computer available for instruction for every four public school students in Maine.

Higher Education

Husson University: Graduate and undergraduate programs in Business Administration, Accounting, Counseling, Criminal Justice and Nursing are offered in Presque Isle. Husson University’s Presque Isle site moved to the campus of Northern Maine Community College. This partnership provides students with the many amenities of a college campus, including library and technology resources. Husson’s offices are conveniently located on the second floor of the Christie Building.

Northern Maine Community College: Currently offers 25 full-time degree, diploma and certificate programs in technical and occupational areas to over 1,110 full-time and part-time students. The NMCC Division of Business and Industry works with area businesses to design training programs to meet their needs.

University of Maine at Presque Isle: Currently serves 935 full-time and 615 part-time students with 24 baccalaureate degree programs and 5 associate degree programs. Transfer programs to five baccalaureate degree programs are offered in conjunction with the University of Maine at Orono and the University of Southern Maine.

University of Maine at Fort Kent: Current enrollment is approximately 600--degree programs include education, forestry, and environmental sciences. The University also houses the Acadian Archives (Archives Acadiennes) where information about the culture and history of the Upper St. John Valley is preserved.

 



 © Aroostook Partnership 2018