Former leader chosen for EMDC presidency

Posted Dec. 18, 2008, at 10:04 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Eastern Maine Development Corp. has a new boss — and he’s also the old boss.

Michael Aube of Bangor was named Thursday to be president and chief executive officer of the regional economic agency. When he steps into his new office on Jan. 5, he’ll be reprising a role he had for 11 years, from 1981 to 1992.

“I think EMDC has always been a quality delivery system to help institutions, citizens, small businesses and communities achieve economic progress,” Aube said Thursday evening. “What I look forward to doing now, particularly in this economic downturn, is working in a collaborative way … to foster and create an environment that … will attract business investment and therefore create jobs. Quality jobs.”

Aube, 58, now is the state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Maine Rural Development Agency, and has held that position for eight years. He is a political appointee of the Bush administration and therefore has to move out when the new Democratic administration takes office.

“I welcome the opportunity to remain in the Greater Bangor area and eastern Maine,” he said, adding that he hopes to “add value to a quality organization.”

Victoria Burpee, the executive vice president of the nonprofit EMDC, has been the de facto head of the organization since former president Charles Webb stepped down in early June to pursue other interests. She said that EMDC is “fortunate” to have chosen Aube.

“He’s a consummate economic development professional with extraordinary experience and a clear understanding of the challenges facing the region in tough economic times,” Burpee said.

Aube also has served as an economic development expert for the U.S. Department of Commerce, as the Maine commissioner of Economic and Community Development and the director of the Maine Quality Centers program.

The civic-minded Mainer rounds out his resume with stints on the Bangor City Council, where he served as mayor, as the vice chairman of the Maine Municipal Association and as chairman of the Maine Technical College System’s board of trustees.

He’ll lead an agency with a $6 million operating budget and 40 employees. The agency’s main office is in Bangor and there also are satellite offices in Dover-Foxcroft, Camden and Machias.

“The organization as a whole does so many different things,” Burpee said. Some of its activities include community development, helping small businesses borrow money and working to attract more businesses to the area.

Burpee said that one recent coup for the agency was the award of an $80,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The agency will use the money to develop a strategic corridor management plan for the proposed Grindstone Scenic Byway in the Millinocket area.

Aube said that Maine’s economy, which still is based on natural resources, poses challenges but also opportunities. Those include the region’s strengths in finance and marketing, its manufacturing base and its creative economy, as well as its university and research and development assets.

“We’ve got a lot of good things in eastern Maine,” Aube said. “When the economy begins to grow again, we want to make sure that eastern Maine does not get left out of that progress.”

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