Strategies developed to boost renewable energy, IT in northern Maine

14 years ago

    CARIBOU — Outcomes from the first year of Mobilize Northern Maine were recently presented at the annual meeting of the Aroostook Partnership for Progress (APP) and LEADers Encouraging Aroostook Development (LEAD).
    Since 2009, APP and the Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) have been working with consultants from Vital Economy to implement Mobilize Maine in northern Maine, a statewide economic development initiative that builds on the strengths and authentic assets of the state’s regions.
    Walt Elish, president and CEO of APP explained, “Mobilize Maine is a collaborative approach to economic development that identifies and implements strategies to address a region’s unique assets that have market-leverage potential in a global economy. This effort is the first of its kind for Aroostook County and northern Maine. We’ve spent the last year collaborating with community and industry leaders to focus on creating economic opportunities. It’s been an exciting process that has produced some very interesting results.”
    That process included establishing five-year goals, mapping the region’s indigenous assets, and conducting an in-depth analysis for two industry clusters: renewable energy and information technology/operations centers. Teams composed of industry executives related to each industry cluster met regularly over the past year setting strategies to fully leverage the economic opportunities associated with these two industries for the region.
    Chris Anderson, chair of APP Board of Directors, supports the mapping process noting that the visions identified for each cluster sets the tone for the entire process and developing a robust economy for the region. “Bringing private industry together to discuss their local and regional assets in conjunction with their respective industry is leading to opportunities for growth unimaginable prior to start of Mobilize Maine. The process is the win,” Anderson said.
    The renewable energy leadership team is focusing on developing economic opportunities in the markets related to excess energy/greenhouse agriculture, cellulosic biomass, and community wind power. The ultimate goal is to create a renewable energy economy utilizing all forms of alternative energy sources and being an innovation leader to capture and retain wealth to stimulate the economy.
    The niche markets identified in the IT/Operations cluster include health care data management, data storage centers, finance/accounting services, and insurance services. By leveraging the region’s unique resources, team leaders wants to position northern Maine to become the premier rural technology hub in the United States where innovation and opportunity attract wealth and people to the region. They propose a Northern Maine IT Outsourcing Collaborative with attention to telecom infrastructure opportunities.
    The next steps for Mobilize Northern Maine includes completing the business case and opportunities analysis for the two industry clusters, and exploring the feasibility of additional industry action teams focused on aerospace, secondary wood products, and tourism development.
    For more details on Mobilize Northern Maine, contact Elish at 498-8731, 1-800-509-2146, or via e-mail at welish@appme.org.