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February 12, 2019

Candidates being reviewed for Katahdin area economic development director

Photo / Maureen Milliken The former Miller's department store, at 230 Penobscot Ave. in Millinocket is being redeveloped, including coworking space. The green metal facade will be removed in the spring. The Katahdin Region Development Board is reviewing application for the post of economic development director for the region.

The Katahdin Region Development Board is reviewing applications for the post of economic development director for the region, and will set up interviews soon, said Mike Michaud, chairman of the development board.

“The subcommittee have been reviewing the applications and bringing a couple of names to the full board to review,” Michaud said. Michaud is a former U.S. representative for Maine’s 2nd District and a Millinocket native.

The director will be employed by Eastern Maine Development Corp. and will work directly with Katahdin Region Development Board. The position is funded by Penobscot County as well as the Katahdin Woods & Waters national monument. The creation of the position was announced in December, after the Penobscot County Commission voted to recommend funding for it.

In an interview in December, Michaud said that the intention of the job is the bring together the economic challenges of the entire area, which stretches from south of Millinocket and East Millinocket to Patten, 30 miles north, including Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway, Patten, Stacyville, Mount Chase, Sherman and Island Falls.

It comprises the northern panhandle of Penobscot County, as well as a strip of southwestern Aroostook County, where the towns of Sherman and Island Falls are.

“The communities in the region have a lot of the same challenges, but also some very different challenges,” he said.

While the economic issues challenges in Millinocket, as well as nearby East Millinocket and Medway are well-known after the pulp mill in Millinocket closed in 2008, followed by East Millinocket in 2014, the northern part of the region has its own challenges related to lack of jobs and work opportunities, a small economic base, transportation and other issues.

He said they were looking for candidates who had strong experience with grant-writing and increasing economic opportunities. They didn’t have to be from the region, or even Maine, though familiarity with the area would help. Job applications closed Jan. 2.

Michaud said there are also a variety of economic opportunities in the region  from industrial and forest-related, to increasing its four-season outdoor recreation profile.

The director will be the primary link between businesses, industries, community groups, developers and funders, officials said when the position was announced.

Lee Umphrey, president and CEO of EMDC, said the public-private partnership "will drive opportunity and innovation for the entire region."

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