New board members see potential to revitalize Loring 

3 weeks ago

LIMESTONE, Maine – A business professor, former town manager, economic development specialist and bank executive have been tasked with redeveloping the former Loring Air Force Base.

Maine’s Legislature created Loring Development Authority shortly before the Limestone base closed in 1994. Since then, the state-funded entity has been responsible for bringing commercial and industrial business to the 3,800-acre Loring Commerce Center.

This month, the Senate unanimously appointed to the board Jim Gardner, resident and former town manager of Easton; Carolyn Dorsey of Caribou, acting vice chancellor for strategic initiatives for the University of Maine System; Lee Umphrey of Bangor, president and CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corporation; and Jeffrey Pangburn of Bangor, vice president and senior relationship manager at TD Bank. 

The three new board members, and one reappointed member, arrive during a time of leadership change and growth potential for Loring. Since January, Loring Development Authority has welcomed an interim CEO, opposed transferring an aging airport hangar to a local museum, continued working with Maine developers who own part of the base and announced future construction of a new potato chip processing plant.

Dorsey served as executive director of the now-defunct Caribou Development Corporation and Caribou’s office of economic and community development during the closure of Loring Air Force Base. 

Carolyn Dorsey

“I understand the immediate and continued impact the base’s closure had on our neighboring communities, Aroostook County and the state,” Dorsey said during her confirmation hearing March 12.

A Fort Fairfield native, Dorsey joined the University of Maine at Presque Isle as a business professor in 2009. She went on to serve as dean of degree completion and workforce development programming at UMPI before her current role with the UMaine System.

Pangburn is a Presque Isle native and was vice president and commercial services officer of Katahdin Trust Company in Presque Isle from 2009 to 2015. He started at TD Bank in Bangor as commercial relationship manager in 2015 and is now senior relationship manager. As a banker, Pangburn has focused largely on commercial and industrial clients, including those in agriculture, food processing and forestry.

Pangburn said that the Loring Development Authority board might consider creating an official business plan that maps out a detailed and agreed-upon vision for more permanent revitalization.

Jeffrey M. Pangburn.

“It could involve Maine’s traditional industries like agriculture and forestry. There are other attributes that are unique, like the airport runways, the aerospace opportunities and pipeline [to Searsport],” Pangburn said. “I see [Loring] tying those things more to the existing economic base of the region.”

Prior to his banking career, Pangburn helped form the Aroostook Partnership for Progress, now called Aroostook Partnership, aimed at curbing out-migration and increasing economic growth in The County.

Gardner retired as Easton’s town manager in January after serving in that role for 13 years. He previously managed Washburn and Ashland and served as president of the Maine Municipal Association from 2016 to 2023. 

Jim Gardner

Umphrey has been president and CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corporation since 2018 and a member of Loring Development Authority’s board since 2021. At EMDC, Umphrey leads programs centered on workforce and economic development and municipal planning.

Dorsey, Pangburn and Gardner fill board vacancies left by outgoing chairperson Jeremy Fischer of Yarmouth, Suzie Paradis of Fort Kent and Ben Shaw of Mapleton. The new board members were nominated by Gov. Janet Mills before going through the Legislative confirmation process. Umphrey has been reappointed.

Lee Umphrey

Per state statute, at least seven of Loring’s board members must be from Aroostook County and four must be from outside Aroostook. There are 13 board members. 

Loring Development Authority President and CEO Jonathan Judkins said the new board members will bring strong expertise in financing, business management and help Loring forge connections with education, workforce and community leaders.

The board of directors will meet Wednesday, April 17 at the Loring Development Authority office, at 154 Development Drive on Loring Commerce Center, to appoint new board leaders. The time and agenda has yet to be finalized, Judkins said.