Houlton Pioneer Times

Southern Aroostook Development Corporation leader speaks to Houlton Rotarians

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its luncheon meeting on Monday Sept. 24.

The guest speaker was Rotarian Jon McLaughlin who along with Rotarian Dana Delano presented a slide how on the work of the Southern Aroostook Development Corporation. The organization originated in 1957 and was reactivated after a few years of its life in 1998 by several business men in the area.

An executive director was hired and a board of directors created. The mission statement of SADC is to promote entrepreneurism and economic growth and to eliminate hurdles to this growth. There is now an 18-member board of directors that includes the Chamber of Commerce Director and the Houlton Economic Development Director. There are 23 private shareholders, five regional entities and one quasi-public entity that support the organization.

SADC works to attract business, create new businesses and does purchase and relocate existing businesses. For example, Tiny Homes of Maine moved to the area from Windham with the support of SADC. These homes are manufactured at the airport now with cheaper suppliers. The next move to help them is to have the trailers needed to move the houses built in Fort Fairfield instead of out west.

Around a year ago SADC helped to build a 6,000-square foot spec building at the airport that Smith and Wesson now leases to create their handcuffs. This division moved out of Smith and Wesson freeing up space in the original plant. The company was able to hire 15 more employees as a result.

SADC supports the Entrepreneur Challenge and this year gave to three entrepreneurs: Green Minnow Media, Small Town Cross Fit and Shiretown Stoves and Outdoor Living who shared the $40,000 prize.

Coffee and Commerce is now a program with three meetings at the hospital. The first course was taught by Fred Grant and 16 folks attended. The next meeting is on Oct. 10 and Steve Milliken will educate attendees on digital marketing. And the third program will be taught in November by Andrew Putnam on the issue of cyber security.

The newest project for SADC is Laboratory Feeds of Maine. There is a need for good agriculture feed for mice that are tested at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. This idea has been in the making for three years and could come together by next fall. The feed requires a precise ratio of ingredients since testing animals requires a non variant diet. The business plan has been created and there are 14 local investors at $1.3 million total. The group is seeking a Community Block Grant to build the $6.2 million operation.

McLaughlin thinks this is “98 percent sure to happen.” If it does take off, the potential is for 23,000 clients for the product. It will be the only plant in the United States. There is one in South America and one in Europe.

SADC can be found online at sadcaroostook.org or at their office on Bangor Road in Houlton with a phone number of 521-0157.

In other business, announcements included auction card reminders and that tickets are now available to sell for the Dead River product raffle to be drawn at the auction on Nov. 28. Rotarian Forrest Barnes brought his guest wife Ann Barnes.

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