Mobilize Northern Maine launches action teams to capture $200M in opportunities

The results of a year-long Mobilize Northern Maine process that focused on identifying economic opportunities, that could potentially generate $200 million in additional business activity, were recently presented to a group of community and business leaders at the Northern Maine Community College. Since 2009, the Aroostook Partnership for Progress (APP) and the Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) have been working with consultants sponsored by FairPoint Communications’ Connect Northern New England program  to implement Mobilize Northern Maine, an economic development initiative that builds on the strengths and unique assets of the region. Walt Elish, President and CEO of APP explained, “this past year the Mobilize Northern Maine process brought together industry leaders to discuss and evaluate unique opportunities in the renewable energy and IT industry clusters. The results of this collaborative approach have led to the reports presented today that identify niche market opportunities for the County. It’s been an exciting process that has produced some very interesting results.” Mike Eisensmith noted that “these reports give us clear guidance on what steps need to be taken to develop implementation strategies to develop these markets.”

Jim Haguewood of ViTALl Economy presented the opportunities identified in the information technology (IT) and renewable energy industry clusters. Haguewood explained that the renewable energy industry cluster has the resources in place to develop an entire biomass to heating industry that would retain and generate $19M in new GDP impact in the County. Also the region’s higher education assets and programs lend themselves to establishing a “Renewable Energy Center of Excellence.” “Both of these are exciting opportunities for the region and can be realized by community leaders taking charge of their economy,” said Haguewood. A collaborative approach to developing business opportunities within the business process outsourcing market was described that would assist individual specialists and small companies in Aroostook County compete together for significant projects. Through an Outsourcing Broker Collaborative, the region can aggregate the brokerage system to access these larger proposals, improving the regions businesses tapping into this expanding market.  “The Aroostook County work ethic is something special and proven performers that can be leveraged for additional economic opportunities”, said Haguewood. He noted that the IT industry cluster team believes that northern Maine could become “the premier rural technology hub in the United States where innovation and opportunity attract wealth and people to the region.”  While it will take a collaborative effort on the part of every IT company in the County, this is achievable, maintains Haguewood.

Chris Anderson, Chair of APP Board of Directors, supports the asset mapping process noting that the visions identified for each cluster sets the tone for the entire process of developing a robust economy for the region. “Bringing private industry together to discuss their local and regional assets in conjunction with their respective industry is leading to opportunities for growth unimaginable prior to starting the Mobilize Maine process.