Eastern Maine Development Corp. has won a half-million-dollar federal grant.
Vicki Rusbult, director of re-engineering the region and planning, says the grant will help the corporation assist businesses in seven sectors of impact.
“Forestry and wood products, composites and boat building, emerging technologies, tourism and hospitality, bioscience and health care, agriculture and food production — and that includes aquaculture — and construction and skilled labor,” she says.
Rusbult says the goal is developing good-paying jobs, like those lost in recent years to paper mill closings. She says those kinds of big manufacturing plans aren’t coming back, but she’s optimistic the region can develop some new, good-paying jobs during the two-year period covered by the grant.
“We need to look for those other opportunities and we need to diversify our economic opportunities. And create jobs, good-paying jobs, to not only re-employ those displaced workers from the mills and the closed manufacturing companies, but also to keep our youth in this region with good-paying jobs,” she says.
Rusbult says the grant will pay for two new staffers, who will work to help businesses grow. They will also try to build collaborations between communities and businesses — which she says will be crucial for eastern Maine to compete with larger cities and towns for the attention of potential employers.