Where are the shovel-ready jobs?

14 years ago

To the editor:
    I read the recent “Strategies developed to boost renewable energy, IT in northern Maine” article by Kathy McCarthy with anticipation to discover new jobs down the road. I was disappointed by the report for a number of reasons. How could the study group be in fact selling Fairpoint Communications’ Connect Northern New England (Internet broadband)?
    Consider the following:
• The strengths of Aroostook County are in agriculture and the woods; neither information technology nor bio-energy is an Aroostook County near-term strength. We taxpayers didn’t sign up to sell FairPoint’s products; so how did the year-long effort get so lost?
• Manufacturing jobs create a five to one multiplier effect; for every manufacturing job, there are five more jobs created. Bringing Lamb Weston French fries to Loring will create a large number of jobs. Why didn’t the year-long effort focus on changes Aroostook needs to make in order to bring that Lamb Weston plant to Loring?
• Huge amounts of electricity are used by Aroostook County farm blowers in potato barns in order to produce high quality potatoes. Why didn’t the year-long effort price out the changes needed to bring down the cost of electricity so Aroostook County potatoes sell competitively?
• A permit, to mine a copper-gold vein with millions of tons of ore discovered in northwest Aroostook County over 30 years ago, was not approved. The price of gold has sky-rocketed and the extraction technology has become much cleaner in 30 years. Maine voters, after a year-long campaign, now own the rail tracks that could bring the ore to the smelter. Why didn’t the year-long effort invite the mining engineers to identify the requirements to get a permit?
    So why haven’t this newspaper’s readers received a report building on these strengths leading to shovel-ready jobs?
Theodore P. Nykreim