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Notes from APP and NMDC
Volume 3, Issue 102
July 18, 2014
In This Issue
Career Services
Food Survey
Investor News
Career Pathways group meets in Madawaska

   MADAWASKA - Members of the St. John Valley Career Pathways Committee, a local group of education, training providers and private business owners met recently in Madawaska to discuss a variety of issues facing employers in the St. John Valley. 
   "The St. John Valley Career Pathways task group meets quarterly to discuss and strategize how to exert education and training resources in ways and through programs that meet the current and future needs of local employers while also helping local workers develop work and career plans leading to self and family economic sufficiency," said Peter Caron, Director of Adult and Community Education in Fort Kent. "It's a tall order, but having employers and business owners at the table to inform our efforts is a tremendous help."
    Shown in the photo, from right to left, are attendees at the meeting Torry Eaton, Senior Manager, Aroostook County Action Program; Peter Caron, Director, MSAD #27 Adult & Community Education; Stacy Devoe, Madawaska Adult and Community Education; Lucy Tabor, Director of Finance, MSAD #27; Louis Dugal, Owner, Highview Manor and Country Village Estates; Ryan Pelletier, Economic and Workforce Development Director, NMDC; and Joanna Russell, Executive Director of the Aroostook-Washington Workforce Investment Board and NMDC.

    Caron reported out to the group regarding a CNA-PLUS training curriculum and delivery model. The local adult education programs plan to offer a CNA training program this fall.

    In addition, Ryan Pelletier, NMDC's Director of Economic and Workforce Development will be meeting with the area's long-term health care providers to discuss NMDC's Workforce Center of Excellence and develop strategies to assist employers with marketing and improving the long-term viability of the health care career field by developing career lattices for entry level positions in the industry.

    "We plan to work directly with the employers in the long term health care industry to help them identify opportunities to make entry level positions more attractive and retain their new hires," said Pelletier. "We understand a lot of turnover exists and we will help build public awareness and marketing campaigns to address some of those issues."

    Committee members also discussed a recent survey of Valley Trucking companies and their desire to bring Commercial Driving License training to the St. John Valley. According to information obtained in a needs survey, companies identified the need to hire 25-30 additional truck drivers in 2015.


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Consumer food survey discussed at APP Diversifed Agriculture working 
group meeting

     CARIBOU - The biggest factor that influences Mainers when buying food is freshness. That is one of the findings in the recently released Maine Food Strategy Consumer Survey. Other major factors were flavor, nutrition and cost.

    The Aroostook Partnership for Progress Diversified Agriculture working group meeting Wednesday, July 16, at Northern Maine Development Commission, featured a discussion about the statewide survey detailing the food-purchasing habits of nearly 600 Mainers.

    The Maine Food Strategy's overarching goal is creating an action plan that will strengthen Maine's farming, fishing and food economy and support Maine residents' ability to access healthy food.

 

    Maine Food Strategy Co-Director Tanya Swain speaks to growers, economic development officials, industry leaders and others about the findings from the Maine Consumer Survey.
    Maine Food Strategy Co-Director Tanya Swain traveled to Caribou to present the findings to the working group, industry leaders and others and discuss how to apply the findings.

    "Agriculture is economic development. People want these products," Swain said referring to locally produced food.

    She indicated for most of the respondents, local meant Maine.

    "Eighty percent prefer local when given a choice," she said.

    Topics included where Mainers purchase their food, barriers to buying more locally produced food and seafood, possible confusion around food labeling and numbers of households involved in hunting, gathering, fishing or gardening to meet some of their food needs.

    Elizabeth Sprague, business development manager for Maine Farmland Trust, was one of more than 20 people who attended the briefing.

    "There are a great many threads to follow in this survey," she said. "But what we really need to improve the economics for local farmers is more value added processing."

    Swain added the purpose of the survey was to determine if Maine consumers want local food. The numbers say yes, but there will be some hurdles to overcome. Seventy percent of respondents said cost is a factor and the majority who attended the meeting agreed with present policies geared toward large-scale agriculture and marketing and distribution challenges making local food more expensive.

    "Scale up or get out seems to be the message right now and how do you change it," said Bangor City Mayor Ben Sprague, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board.

    Other notable findings from the report included, 80 percent of the consumers purchase their food from chain grocery stores, 27 percent spend $51 to $100 a month on locally grown or produced food and 24 percent do not buy Maine food due to a lack of access.

    The Maine Food Strategy held similar informational events in Lewiston and Portland.

Investor News:
Propane conversions and heat pumps lead to savings 
 

    On a warm July day, the winter heating season isn't on the mind of many folks, but for Aroostook Partnership for Progress investor Dead River, it is a good time to reflect on the past heating season and gear up for the next.

    Last winter was a perfect illustration of the need for homeowners and businesses to have the most efficient, cost effective heating system possible. For Dead River Company, it was an opportunity to educate and advise customers on solutions that would help to reduce fuel consumption and their heating bills.

    It may seem counterintuitive for a company to help customers find ways to buy less of the product they sell, but as Dead River Company area manager Mark Wilcox explains, "Heating a home or business through a Maine winter can be a challenge. Helping our customers and giving them expert advice that they can trust is part of 'delivering on a promise.'"

    For both residential and commercial customers looking for an alternative to heating oil, converting to propane and installing highly energy-efficient heat pumps were the overwhelming choices.

    "Even though last year's propane prices spiked in January, our customers saved money by converting to propane," said Wilcox. "The opportunity to reduce consumption and save continues. We're seeing many customers choose propane either by converting their existing system's burner or installing completely new propane systems with efficiency ratings as high as 95 percent. Propane is a great alternative to heating oil."

    Dear River Company is also on pace to install even more ductless heat pumps this year than last. Ductless heat pump technology delivers 2.5 to 3 times more energy in the form of heat than it uses in electricity to produce the heat. The same unit that cools in the summer can reduce the living space's fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent during the winter.

    "We're an energy company that wants to help our customers use less energy and save money," said Wilcox. "We really are here to help."

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