Media Archive

County backs creation of economic development plan

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 14, April 07, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT Piscataquis County Commissioners unanimously agreed to facilitate the development of a county-wide economic development plan.

Mark Scarano, executive director of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, presented a 17-page draft plan to commissioners Tuesday, backed up by the presence of many of the region's town managers and other officials.

The draft plan, assembled by PCEDC with assistance from various municipal leaders, outlines several goals to foster economic development in the county on a regional basis including emphasis on a diverse economy, support for startup entrepreneurs, retention of existing businesses, attraction of new businesses. The draft plan also points out the importance of developing "business-friendly 'hard' infrastructure," such as roads, access to high-speed internet and access to available developed land, along with "'soft' infrastructure," such as education for workers, pride among residents in the county and access to safe, affordable child daycare services.

Scarano asked the county commissioners to take the lead in sponsoring a public hearing to generate community input for the plan, which he characterized as a "dynamic document."

"We want to take this to the public, who may bring in new ideas or validate the ideas we've already come up with," he said. "Either way, we'll have a stronger plan."

The roadmap for adoption, as proposed by Scarano, also incorporates the distribution of the draft document to stakeholders across the county including the PCEDC board of directors, local chambers of commerce, town managers and selectmen, school superintendents and more.

A public hearing sponsored by the county commissioners is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, in the Piscataquis County Superior Courtroom. The county commissioners are expected to take action on the final plan in mid-May.

Scarano said the county will benefit in applying for economic development grants from the federal and state governments by having such a plan in place.

John Simko, town manager in Greenville, spoke in favor of the process, which he said would reflect well on the region in applying for access to such governmental resources. "We have a good thing going," he said. "We have a common interest in developing the county."

Milo Town Manager Jane Jones agreed. "The future of Piscataquis County rests in our ability to work together," she said.

"It's hard to not agree with having a regional plan," noted Commissioner Tom Lizotte. "I just wish the state would come up with a plan." Commissioner Tony Bartley made a motion to approve of the process and the concept of the plan. "It's a good start," he said.

"We need to lift ourselves up by our bootstraps," added Chairman Eben DeWitt.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.