In the interest of keeping you informed of our work at the economic development office I’d like to share recent news with you.
First, two weeks ago the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) sent out notice that they would receive applications from communities wishing to be recognized as “Opportunity Zones” with a deadline of March 9th. Having reviewed the federal government’s criteria, I called around Franklin County to determine which communities would be most competitive under the DECD guide lines. After consulting with the towns I was able to draft two proposals which I hope the Governor will find compelling. One proposal focuses on the Rangeley area and dormant Saddleback Mountain. The second proposal focuses on Jay / Livermore Falls and Livermore with their many available industrial sites. Please visit the description of the Opportunity Zones and the two proposals that we submitted to DECD on behalf of these communities: Rangeley and Jay/Livermore/Livermore Falls.
Also last Friday I joined representatives from Farmington, Wilton and Jay to hear CMP’s update on their New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC)proposal to provide clean energy to Massachusetts via a transmission line running from Canada across Franklin County, into Somerset and back into southern Franklin. They are competing with a proposal that runs through New Hampshire and they hope a decision will be made by April. We heard representatives from CMP say that the strength of their project is that they are striving for 100% support from the communities where they will be working. We also heard them state, “This project is for western Maine”. This supports what they have oft stated to the Public Utilities Commission while applying for licensing; “We wish to benefit the communities in which we work”.
I used CMP’s comments to illustrate the strength and success to-date of our county-wide broadband initiative. Our county-wide broadband plan was presented to all of you on January 31st. Each of the twenty-two towns plus our Commissioners gave written and financial support for this study. That is 100% support. I thanked CMP for their intention to have their project be “for western Maine”. Now that our plan is done we have a pretty clear picture of our needs and exactly how CMP can be a catalyst toward implementation. I presented them with a detailed outline of how they can specifically benefit the communities in which they work. Mostly this would be running their fiber (to lease) on their poles along our major roadway arteries. Next steps will be a meeting between CMP’s technical team and our broadband team to firm up details. If CMP is successful with their bid then they could choose to play a significant role in getting all of Franklin County connected to the 21stcentury. It would be tremendous goodwill for them and well earned.
Along with our Franklin County Broadband Initiative, these are examples of this county’s economic development office’s wide vision for the county. Going forward we will be shining light on needs and opportunities – and then chasing them down. My Board, my staff and I share the goal of finding opportunities that will spur new development in our region. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions, thoughts or concerns you may have.