Workforce issues, education and growing the business skills of entrepreneurs present and future will be center stage at the 2015 Aroostook Day at the Legislature Wednesday, Feb. 11.
LEADers Encouraging Aroostook Development (LEAD), a key partner in the Aroostook Partnership for Progress (APP), organizes the event.
"We sponsor Aroostook Day as an opportunity for members of the private, public and nonprofit sectors in Aroostook County to interact directly with our elected state representatives on issues of importance to The County," said Jim Davis, LEAD president.
The event, held at the Senator Inn in Augusta, begins at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour, then dinner, followed by formal presentations.
Ryan Pelletier, Executive Director of LEAD and Director of Economic and Workforce Development at Northern Maine Development Commission, and Scott Voisine, Dean of Community Education at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, are the speakers for the evening.
"This is a chance to inform not only our delegation, but other committee members as well about our economic development opportunities and challenges," said Pelletier.
Voisine will focus on UMFK's Rural U Program, a fast-growing early college and dual enrollment program that serves students in 57 high schools throughout the state. He will also briefly touch on the new Aroostook Business Initiative, which brings the four higher education institutions in Aroostook County together along with other partners to increase interest in business learning opportunities for learners from middle school to adulthood.
"We live in a state with dwindling resources for education, yet we are continually being held to a higher standard of accountability in education," said Voisine. "In order for this state to be able to continue to achieve a high level of educational quality and a broad breath of curricular choices to students at all levels then we need to realize a seamless, collaborative system of education in Maine from pre-K to 16 and beyond to adulthood. My message will be that initiatives such as Rural U and the Aroostook Business Initiative are important in this effort and are examples of what can happen when educational institutions and community partners can achieve when they come together for the betterment of the community."
"Once the meeting is over, legislators are usually asked to give a brief update to the attendees of what is happening with them and issues that are coming up," Pelletier said. "The next day we try to hold a meeting with officials on a subject that LEAD has an interest, in the past it has been transportation related, but this year it will focus on growing the forest economy."
Pelletier said invitees include LEAD and APP members, NMDC Executive Board, Aroostook-Washington Workforce Investment Board, Aroostook and Washington County legislators and legislative leadership.
"Advocacy is part of the fundamental reason for our [LEAD] reasoning for being," said Davis. "This event is our way of being able to meet with our elected representatives and inform them very directly as to what our issues, concerns and our ideas are. We do not expect them in Augusta to necessarily be the solution. We like to bring ideas to them as well."
Anyone who would like more information or to attend Aroostook Day at the Legislature is urged to contact Judy Dinsmore at NMDC by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (207) 498-8736.