CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou City Manager Austin Bleess will serve as the chairman of the Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) executive board for the upcoming fiscal year. Bleess was elected chair during the NMDC annual meeting held Thursday, June 23, 2016 at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.
The vice chairman is Jon Frederick of Castle Hill, Ralph Dwyer of Ashland will serve as treasurer and Keith Brown of Washburn was voted as secretary for 2016-17.
Two new board members were also selected for two-year terms. Ryan Pelletier, town manager in Madawaska, and Jim Risner, town manager of Fort Fairfield, were voted in by Australian ballot.
Also at the annual meeting, NMDC Executive Director Bob Clark presented the annual report for the organization. Clark highlighted a number of programs that directly benefited the residents of Aroostook and Washington counties.
“During the past fiscal year, NMDC has worked to promote Aroostook County as a quality tourism destination, provided loans to new and existing businesses, provided environmental assessments of possible Brownfield sites and completed a very successful Community Guided Planning and Zoning process to possibly encourage smart development in the unorganized territory,” said Clark.
“Other economic development efforts include mapping produce distribution routes and assessing needs in transportation, successfully leveraging three grant programs to grow a medical appliance business in the Presque Isle Industrial Park and completing a statewide Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Another big success last year was the continued growth of the Northern Forest Products Industry Cluster, spearheaded by the Aroostook Partnership,” he said.
Other highlights include:
Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) assistance led to more than $4 million in federal and state contracts in Aroostook and Washington counties.
The cooperative purchasing of salt saved 53 municipalities in the region nearly $23,000.
The Northern Maine Brownfields Initiative paid for nine Phase 1 environmental site assessments and seven Phase 2 assessments. The primary goal is the cleanup of properties for future economic development.
The Business Finance Division completed 37 loans in fiscal 2015-16 for more than $1.7 million, which helped create 28 jobs and retain 128.
Clark pointed out only a few examples and thus urged NMDC members to take the opportunity to review the annual report, which can be found on www.nmdc.org.
“I also want to commend the Executive Board and NMDC staff for their commitment to the planning and economic development needs of Aroostook and Washington counties.”
Two outgoing board members were also honored at the meeting. Outgoing Chairperson Christy Sirois of St. Agatha received a token of appreciation for her work on the board and Paul Underwood, who was not present, also received a thank-you gift.