A great opportunity for Aroostook

11 years ago

To the editor:
    The Aroostook County business community has a great upcoming opportunity to attend an important gathering of our region’s businesses – The Maine Business Leadership Network’s Regional Employer Forum: Maine’s Untapped Workforce, on June 5 in Presque Isle. Our focus will be on talent and how to better engage the region’s workforce, particularly the benefits to businesses of hiring people with disabilities.

    As an employee of Northern Maine Development Commission and business outreach coordinator for the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) program, I’m pleased to be partnering with the Maine Business Leadership Network (BLN) and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, supporting their efforts to host the first of several regional employer forums.
    It is not insignificant that the Maine BLN chose Aroostook County as their first location. Too often, Aroostook County is bypassed, or even forgotten by other statewide organizations. Or businesses in Aroostook have to drive to Bangor, or even Portland to attend a conference focused on “the State of Maine.” The Maine BLN recognizes Aroostook County is a key part of their statewide outreach, and I’m honored to be working to plan the event.
    Please join us on Wednesday, June 5 from 8:30 to 12:30 on the campus of the University of Maine at Presque Isle. There is no cost to businesses, but we are asking that they register online. If you wish to attend, please contact me at nstpierre@nmdc.org.
    This is a great opportunity for County business leaders and key stakeholders to gather for a conversation and dialogue about a key element of Maine’s workforce that up until now has been underutilized.
    Let me also share a bit of my personal story, albeit a brief snippet.
    I am a person with a disability, but that’s not how I am defined. I’ve been fortunate to have had a great many unique career opportunities over the years, especially in Aroostook County. Aroostook is actually where it all began for me. I believe that is because here, I have been fortunate enough to have been recognized for my skills and talents versus my lack of “abilities,” so to speak.
    In Aroostook, I’m known as the DEI business outreach coordinator, a small business owner, grad student, mother and community leader; not the “disabled-girl-with-the-pink-canes.” That’s not to say I haven’t had challenges finding steady employment over the years. In fact, at the age of 32, I’m still seeking permanent full-time employment, aside from working to grow my small business.
    The career success I have had in recent years comes from being able to network with individuals here in Aroostook that have taken the time to get to know me first as a person, thus my disability has fallen by the wayside. This is how it should be.
    This is part of the message we want to communicate and share. Please join us on June 5 for an exciting opportunity to lead the rest of the state forward.

Natalie St. Pierre
Presque Isle