The Piscataquis County Economic Development Council (PCEDC) endorsed again in 2007January 13, 2007 - TRC The Piscataquis County Economic Development Council (PCEDC) has been endorsed again in 2007 by funding from the county. Recently, the PCEDC announced its plans for the coming year at its annual meeting in Dover-Foxcroft. “PCEDC must move forward and let everyone know the good work we are doing,” said incoming PCEDC President Jack Clukey. “I want to help PCEDC work smarter as well as harder. Clearly, a priority is hiring a new executive director – a decision we do not take lightly. We will find the right candidate and not just any candidate for the sake of filling the position. A hiring committee is in place and a new round of candidates is under review.” According to John Holden of Eastern Maine Development Corporation, who is filling in under a management contract, PCEDC will continue the work and the quality of work it has established over the past few years. In 2006, the PCEDC used grant funding from USDA Rural Development to hire a community development specialist. This allowed the organization to branch out into providing more assistance for downtown revitalization projects, tourism infrastructure and affordable housing around the region. “Most people think of us as strictly as an organization that helps attract and retain businesses,” said PCEDC Community Development Specialist Sheila Grant, “and we do that. But I think folks would be surprised at how many other ways PCEDC is involved in our communities and is working to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Piscataquis region.” Grant’s current projects include improvements to the Appalachian Trail parking lot in Monson, in partnership with several organizations who care for and share an interest in the trail; developing downtown revitalization priorities in Milo in partnership with citizens and business owners there; and assisting the Town of Dover-Foxcroft with a number of grants to provide sidewalks for school children, study the best use of vacant buildings and move forward on downtown revitalization plans. The PCEDC’s core funding comes from the county. The organization then uses that base funding to secure additional funds from federal and state grant programs as well as from private contributions from businesses throughout the county. PCEDC continued its cultural heritage and tourism work last year and intends to stay in the front of this work in the county. Under the banner of CHET (PCEDC’s Cultural Heritage Eco-Tourism committee), PCEDC accomplishments include publication of the Piscataquis Cultural Heritage Directory and development of curriculum for local schools that teaches students about their own history and culture and instills in them a “pride of place.” Most recently, PCEDC’s CHET committee, in partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Club and University of Maine Cooperative Extension, published a Southern Piscataquis Regional Recreation Map and Guide. A book detailing the 20th century history of the region is also in the works. PCEDC is also continuing to focus on tourism development in the county. Its Piscataquis Tourism Task Force (PTTF) has presented its findings and work to state and county legislators and intends to release a web page, in partnership with The Maine Highlands, featuring a nature-based itinerary that winds through the county. “So, clearly, while attracting and retaining businesses in the Piscataquis region is our mission, we accomplish that through a wide spectrum of community efforts geared toward improving the quality of life not only for new business owners and their employees, but for folks who already live here,” Grant concluded.NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.