Here’s an update on our work that is benefiting our county:
 

Broadband

You will recall our Fidium Fiber upgrade completed in December of 2022. That project covered nine towns (about 70% of our addresses) in Franklin county.  
 
TDS Telecom was recently awarded a federal E-ACAM grant to upgrade their existing DSL (old copper phone lines) to a Fiber network. Their first town in Franklin County to go live was Weld in early September and they are offering 300 mbps symmetrical for $69/month for the first two years (which is the same cost as their 25/3 DSL). Phillips and Madrid will go live before Thanksgiving.
 
Concurrently, our Digital Literacy/Equity partnership with Franklin County Adult Education and Spruce Mtn Adult Education is allowing our instructors to deliver free technology classes at all our county libraries and Seniors Plus in Wilton. See the schedule here.
 

Childcare

Franklin County has about 1,500 children ages 0-5 while we have about 740 total childcare slots in the county. This means that roughly 760 parents may not be able to re-enter the workforce at a time when unemployment is historically low at 2.9% – nearly every employer is looking for workers. Family incomes suffer while business growth is stymied.
 
We need more childcare providers across the county. The Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has directed investment towards childcare solutions and some of these dollars have come into the state Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program administered by CEI’s Childcare Business Lab (Coastal Enterprises Inc.). We have four projects that were awarded more than $360,000 in federal funds to help them create more than 50 additional slots through start-ups or expansion. Several other Franklin County applications are pending and, if approved, would add another nearly 100 childcare spaces. CEI is still accepting applications!
 

Workforce Housing

Our diverse communities in north Franklin County have a unique economic blend of recreation, hospitality, and forest products that drive our regional economy. The Airbnb phenomenon has consumed previously available long-term housing used by workforce. None of our employers (schools, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, etc) can fully staff due to the lack of available housing. A unique collaboration between five towns (Coplin, Eustis, Wyman, Carrabassett Valley and Kingfield) has created a non-profit entity called Western Maine Mountain Housing focused on building quality housing for those who will work and live in our communities.
 
Kingfield will be fortunate to host the first project. Contract zoning ordinances to permit specific high density projects for the workforce housing project in Kingfield were approved by town meeting in June 2023. The town planning board has unanimously recommended the specific Contract Zone for an 18-unit apartment project to the selectboard. The town will vote in January to allow or reject the specific Contract Zone for this project.  

Recent Posts

  • Jay to become a mill town once again
    John Godfrey of Godfrey Forest Products announced at a news conference Friday that he plans to manufacture oriented strand board, similar to particleboard, and bring about 125 jobs to the site of the former Androscoggin Mill on Riley Road. The side of the mill closest to state Route 4, where the digester ruptured at Pixelle Specialty Solutions in April 2020, will be torn down and a new 300,000-square-foot facility will be built. Godfrey said the investment would be in the hundreds of millions.
  • Franklin County to have 98% broadband coverage by summer
    At the Wilton Select Board meeting on Tuesday, March 5, Charlie Woodworth told the Select Board the goals of the initiative were coming to fruition and approximately 98% of Franklin County will have access to broadband and fiber optic internet services in some form by mid-summer.

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