Vol. 2, Issue 7                                                        Sept. 28, 2017
NMDC Dues Assessements Remain Unchanged for 15th Consecutive Year

   CARIBOU — For the fifteenth consecutive year Northern Maine Development Commission has elected not to increase dues assessments to member communities.

   Meeting Thursday, Sept. 21 in Caribou, the NMDC Executive Board approved the dues assessments for 2018-19. The dues formula is based on 50 percent valuation and 50 percent population. The Unorganized Territories had the largest decrease in dues, dropping by more than $155. Nashville Plantation had the largest increase of $389.

   In general, member communities receive a 20% reduction on costs for contracted services, preferred status when requesting assistance, representation on the board and committees and eligibility to participate in NMDC’s regional Cooperative Purchase Program.

   As an example, Caribou, in 2015-16, received direct services and savings of $54,253 compared to NMDC dues of a little more than $13,000.

   Also at the meeting, the board ratified a service contract for $9,000 with the town of Baileyville for assistance with its Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) grant award.

   The Town of Baileyville is one of three grant recipients in NMDC’s Economic Development District that received financial support from NBRC. The $1,122,000 project will be supported by NBRC’s Economic Infrastructure grant in the amount of $500,000. This project will replace 3500 linear feet of leaking sewer system piping along Broadway Street and increase capacity of the town’s system.

   The NBRC Federal-State partnership is aided by a group of regional organizations called Local Development Districts (LDD's) that assist the NBRC in its outreach activities and administer NBRC investments for grantees. 

   “LDD's are knowledgeable about other Federal and State programs that help fund economic and community development projects and are aware of local concerns as most engage in regional economic development planning of varying degrees,” said Alain Ouellette, Planning and Development Division Director.

   NMDC serves in such a capacity for the Aroostook-Washington Economic Development District of Maine.

   “NMDC’s role is to ensure that the Grantee file reports on time and with sufficient information to provide a meaningful outline of the project status, provide guidance on filing reimbursement requests, ensure that the Grantee has filed their final report and financial report in a timely manner after the project is complete,” he added.

   The other two grant recipients are Caribou and Fort Kent.

   Following formal business, the Executive Board participated in a NMDC strategic planning session with Jim Haguewood of OneGroup Consulting and his associate Sheila Jans. The purpose of the discussion was to look at the functions of the organization, determine what NMDC is doing well, what it could be doing better and what services may be required in the future.

   NMDC has been working to develop a strategic plan update since this summer. Haguewood and Jans have conducted staff and stakeholder interviews, developed a strategic review of the organization and researched business models which may be appropriate for the organization. The project should be complete by mid-November.  

    Photo above: New NMDC Executive Board Chairman Jame C. Risner, right, brings the September meeting to order alongside Robert Clark, NMDC Executive Director.
  The Maine Small Business Development Centers (Maine SBDC) has selected Josh Nadeau as the 2017 State Star. The award, given annually, recognizes a member of the Maine SBDC staff that has shown exemplary performance and a strong commitment to small business success. Nadeau accepted his award at an SBDC convention in Nashville , Tenn. earlier this month.

BikeMaine Coming to Aroostook County

    AROOSTOOK COUNTY — Tourism officials in Aroostook County are applauding the decision of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine to bring their BikeMaine event to The County next year.

   “BikeMaine is a celebration of Maine’s people, places, culture, and food,” BikeMaine Event Director Zach Schmesser said. “As we started to think about where we wanted to go next year, northern Maine – and specifically Aroostook County – really stood out for us. Geographically, Aroostook County is the largest county east of the Mississippi, and there’s so much about northern Maine that we’d like to showcase for our riders, most of whom come from out of state. It’s a very special place.”

   Alain Ouellette, Planning and Development Division Director at Northern Maine Development Commission, is also staff support to the Aroostook County Tourism Board (ACT).

   “ACT is thrilled to have nearly 500 bicyclists introduced to the region through BikeMaine,” said Ouellette. “Aroostook County can offer a very unique bicycling experience. Cyclists can enjoy open space, abundant wildlife, panoramic views, picturesque villages and low vehicle traffic. Bike along rivers, forestlands or travel along a state designated scenic highway.”

   “The League of American Cyclists has ranked Maine as one of the top 10 most bike-friendly states in the country. The rankings are based on more than 70 factors, including bike-friendly legislation, policies and programs; infrastructure; education and encouragement; evaluation and planning; and enforcement.

   2018 will be the sixth year of Bike Maine sponsored by The Bicycle Coalition of Maine aimed at making Maine a bicycle tourism destination.

   They said it will be a week-long celebration of Acadia in the St. John Valley: La Terre Entre Deux.

   The specific towns that BikeMaine 2018 will visit are set to be announced in February, according to the organization.

   BikeMaine is an event offered by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, a nonprofit membership organization with more than 5,000 members working to make Maine better through biking and walking.

   More information on BikeMaine can be found at http://ride.bikemaine.org/.

NMDC Receives Innovation Award from NADO
    Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) in Caribou has been awarded a National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Innovation Award for 2017.
   Each year, NADO recognizes member organizations that demonstrate innovative approaches to regional economic and community development through the Innovation Awards program. Over 1,500 NADO member projects have been recognized since 1986 for their creative efforts in advancing regional economic development and improved quality of life.
   NMDC was honored for a series of small business assistance workshops titled, “Proper Planning for Small Business Success.”
   The workshops were also linked to at least $20,000 in Small Business Administration loan funds to help entrepreneurs start or expand their microenterprise, hobby business or small business.
   The breadth and scope of the winning projects is impressive and far-reaching and illustrates the important role NADO members have in supporting regional development. Previous award-winning projects have showcased innovative efforts in a variety of program areas including business and economic development, community health initiatives, emergency planning, brownfields, sustainability, technology, transportation, workforce development, and many others.
   Innovation winners have successfully leveraged their awards to bring additional resources to their regions and have also used the awards to better explain to their various audiences the important work they do.
NMDC Selected to Plan Bicycle Route from Bangor to the St. John Valley

   Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) is beginning a project that develops an application which could create a federally designated bike route (Northern Maine US Bike Route) located in Penobscot and Aroostook counties.  The bike route designation would complement and connect to the existing US Route One Bike Route located in southern and Downeast Maine.  The proposed route would be located on existing state and local roads and/or existing bike and pedestrian trails in the region.  A draft proposed route is approximately 320 miles.

   NMDC staff will create, and work with, a Steering Committee made up of municipal officials, bicyclists, chamber representative(s), and other interested parties to determine the best route in the region.  This Steering Committee will also review the application for submittal.

   The Northern Maine US Bike Route would be located in Penobscot and Aroostook Counties, Maine.  Project would begin/terminate in Bangor at the intersection of the Federally designated US Route One bike route and head north through the larger communities of Orono, Old Town, Medway, Sherman, Patten, Island Falls, Houlton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, Caribou, Van Buren, Madawaska, and terminate in Fort Kent at the international border crossing.

   The Northern Maine US Bike Route will be part of the United States Bicycle Route System (USBRS), which is the national cycling route network of the United States.  It will be part of the interstate long-distance cycling routes and will utilize multiple types of bicycling infrastructure, including existing off-road trails, bicycle lanes, and low-traffic roads.

   The Northern Maine US Bike Route is intended to traverse two rural counties in Maine (Penobscot and Aroostook) and connects to previously designated scenic byways, which are the Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway and St. John Valley Scenic Byway.

  The route will begin/terminate at the international border crossing in Fort Kent, designated as America’s First Mile of US Route One.

   The Route will also highlight the region’s cultural resources including, but not limited to, the Swedish Colony, Amish communities, Acadian heritage, the University System, and highlight the importance of agriculture and forestry to the regional economy.

   This project was initiated in Aroostook County when Senator Peter Edgecomb of Caribou and several local business owners approached MaineDOT and NMDC in an effort to designate a federal bike route that connected to the US Route One Bike Route in Washington County.  NMDC staff has since worked with local bicycle and pedestrian groups, Chambers of Commerce, municipal officials, and the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Council to determine local, regional and state support for this project.  In all cases, support has been overwhelmingly positive.

   Once designated, it is envisioned that the Northern Maine US Bike Route will bring significant economic, transportation, environmental, and health benefits to residents and visitors of both counties.  The route will be shown on national maps and be identified as a bicycle tourism destination. Designating a USBR creates intrastate connections to coastal Maine as well as potentially creates possibilities for cross-country travel by bike, bringing out-of-state tourism spending and generating interest in northern Maine.  The proposed route is different than the current US Route One Bicycle Route as it is an inland route and traverses through the rural areas of Maine.  A bicyclist will travel along the Penobscot River, have the opportunity to visit a National Monument, visit a variety of cultural resources, and experience two of Maine’s scenic by-ways.

   Once completed, the Northern Maine Bike Route will be part of a cross-country bicycle route running the length of the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida.  It will connect to one of the two original U.S Bicycle Routes.  At the present time, AASHTO recognizes the segments in North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Maine as being the only "official" segments of U.S. Bicycle Route One. The New Hampshire and Maine sections of U.S. Bicycle Route One were approved in May 2011. 

    For more information on this project, contact Jay Kamm, Senior Planner at NMDC at 493-5757, or by email at jkamm@nmdc.org.

TIF Workshop coming
up this October 
Ashland Facade Project Moving Forward
   The Town of Ashland is nearing the completion of its 2016 Façade Improvement Project.
   Seven businesses have participated in the project. In 2016, the Town demolished two dilapidated buildings in the targeted village area and made site improvements on the vacant lots. A farm stand now occupies the site. Façade improvements on buildings have included window, doors, siding, roof and main entrance replacements.
   The Town is looking to submit a 2018 Community Development Block Grant Micro Enterprise Grant application to continue its work with businesses. The purpose of this application is to assist businesses with equipment purchase, working capital, inventory, and other needed repairs to the building.
   There are four major highways leading into town – Route 227 to/from Presque Isle; Route 163 to/from Mapleton and Presque Isle; Route 11 from the north links Ashland with Fort Kent; and Route 11 from the south links Ashland with the towns of Patten/Sherman, which is how Ashland accesses Interstate 95.
   According to Ashland officials, tourists and vehicular traffic often drive through the community without stopping for service mainly because of the dreary and desolate look of the downtown; it is merely a pass through from one destination to the next.
   New commercial enterprises, such as restaurants, hardware stores, and other retail businesses would help boost the economy and lower the residential real estate tax.
   The Town applied for and was approved for a $150,000 grant from the 2016 CDBG Micro Enterprise Grant Program to administer a Façade Improvement Project.
    For more information on the project contact, Joella Theriault, Community Development Specialist at NMDC, at 551-5812, or by email at jtheriault@nmdc.org.
PO BOX 779, CARIBOU, ME, O4736