Aroostook County, Maine Community College receives one of the largest private contributions to create Alternative Energy Center of Excellence
Northern Maine Community College located in Presque Isle, Maine celebrated opening new facilities enabling the education and training within the use of the regions abundant renewable energy resources. The expansion was made possible by one of the largest private contributions, $1.2 million, in Maine higher education history. The donation was provided from California resident and Presque Isle native Mary Smith. The award was made in honor of her late husband Rodney Smith, a native of England, who rose from an impoverished youth and incredible odds to become a successful businessman in the US.
Northern Maine began their VE Journey in 2010 by launching Mobilize Northern Maine. Locally sponsored by the Northern Maine Development Commission and Aroostook Partnership for Progress, hundreds of community and business leaders set their regions economic goals, held numerous indigenous resource asset mapping sessions concluding with the prioritization two industry clusters, Renewable Energy and IT Outsourcing. VE facilitation assisted the region by defining the clear linkage between the regions leverageable assets and their adopted economic vision.
The Aroostook Renewable Energy Economy included a variety of niche markets, biomass to energy, grass biomass, community and small wine, excess industrial steam, the buy local Northern Maine energy market and the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Center of Excellence. Collectively this strategies impact could reach 666 direct jobs, 569 indirect jobs, $45.3M in new employment earnings, production fuel value of $75.9M and overall yearly GDP impact of $70.9M.
The opening of the Alternative Energy Center of Excellence is a key element to the creation of a renewable energy economy. Both wind and biomass energy projects need highly skilled technicians and knowledgeable workers. The new 7,800 square foot building will allow for the expansion of the NMCC’s wind power technology program and laboratory space of solar and biomass.
Tim Crowley, President of NMCC stated, “the center will have significant impact on our ability to help Aroostook County and the state build infrastructure and workforce needed to ensure alternative energy is key to unlocking the future economic potential of the region.”
In addition to the Smith family contribution, NMCC has also received a $225,000 grant from Efficiency Maine Trust for new technology and equipment to support new classes that will stress energy efficiency in construction and renovation practices.
“Mobilize Northern Maine has been a powerful and worthy initiative in Aroostook County. NMCC has been able to leverage the development of a measurable strategic plan to support our college, our meaningful connections with the business community and our role in support of growing the economy,” said Tim Crowley.