Media Archive

County bonding promises boost to regional economy

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 34, August 20, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT Economic development officials will present a slate of projects to Piscataquis County Commissioners next spring for bonding.

Mark Scarano, executive director of Piscataquis Properties Corporation and Piscataquis Economic Development Council, gave an update on the county bonding of economic development projects to commissioners on Tuesday.

He said the Piscataquis Properties Corporation, made up of representatives from area towns, is now meeting with various municipal bodies and officials in area business parks to compile a list of projects that will be presented to the commissioners in spring of 2004.

Prior to going to a countywide referendum vote, the proposal will go through a similar process as the annual county budget &Mac247; from the county commissioners it will go on to the budget committee for review, before heading back to the commissioners for final approval.

The referendum is expected to require an up-or-down vote of the slate of projects for bonding, Scarano said.

He explained that the bonding authority recently granted the county by the.state legislature and signed into law by Gov. JohnBaldaeci is a unique tool that will facilitate the development and realization of regional economic development projects.

He said the county is eligible now to bond the development of new sites "for the physical location, settlement or resettlement of new or expanding manufacturing, commercial or other business enterprises" within the borders of Piscataquis County, along with related costs, such as surveying, land acquisition, land use and environmental permitting, engineering and legal services.

The county is now able to finance the development of new community industrial buildings within the county; renovate existing structures (such as vacant schoolhouses) for commercial, industrial or mixed use purposes, construct, finance or provide operating assistance to publicly-owned facilities for passenger and cargo transportation.

Scarano said, whatever the projects, the county would benefit greatest by using bonding to raise local matches to bigger state and federal grants, such as community development block grants, federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants or transportation grants.

"I think it's wise for you, as policymakers, to apply for larger amounts, and use our money as a local match, he said.

Any economic development projects in the county will cause a ripple effect, positively impacting the region, and, possibly reversing the county's out-migration of population, high unemployment and low wages trends, Scarano said.

Jane Jones, Milo town manager, agreed. She said that, while the degree to which the economic blight impacts various communities differs across the county, the reality is similar &Mac247; every town is looking to provide good jobs in their communities and put a halt to the population loss.

"Different areas of the county are in different development stages," Jones said. "We need to act in concert."

She urged, however, that the process will be "educational" &Mac247; to the economic development officials, county representatives and voters, alike.

John Simko, town manager of Greenville, said that the bonding will provide "one more tool in the toolbox," which will make the county more attractive for receipt of economic development grants.

"No other county in Maine has this capacity," he said. "This will greatly enhance our chance of getting other funds."

"This is good for all of Piscataquis County. It's becoming the mantra of what everybody's thrust is, we have the lowest-wages, we're struggling with high unemployment and out-migration, we need to seek solutions together," said Jones. "This is innovative, something we need to do to compete in 2005 and 2010 to show we have done everything we can to change those statistics."

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