PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — For young adults who have lived in Aroostook County for most or all of their lives, it is easy to think of something to do when you are not working. There are favorite restaurants to visit, adult sport leagues to join and movie theaters to take in shows. In the wintertime, there also are snowmobiling, snow-shoeing and skiing.
Young adults who recently have moved to the area, however, might not always know where to turn for guidance on what to do after a long day on the job or on the weekend, which sometimes leads individuals to think, “There is nothing to do here.”
One group of young professionals is working hard to make sure young adults stay occupied — and in Aroostook County.
Momentum Aroostook is a group of Aroostook County young people ages 20 to 40 that has connected for career, social and community betterment. The group strives to provide opportunities for networking, learning and fun with those who choose to live in The County but still want to enjoy some of the social and professional perks of bigger-city living.
Members of the group recently tag-teamed with students from the University of Maine at Presque Isle to hold a presentation called “The Portal Project: Enticing Young Professionals to the County.” The event was followed by a reception and dinner in the Multi-Purpose Room of the UMPI Campus Center.
The event marked the end of a yearlong planning collaboration that led to development of a strategic communication tool. The tool will be used by Presque Isle-area businesses to help recruit and retain employees ages 18 to 40. Momentum Aroostook designed and delivered the project with a $5,000 grant from the Maine Devel-opment Foundation’s “REALIZE!Maine” statewide initiative to strengthen networking and recruiting opportunities for young professionals.
The Northern Maine Development Commission helped write and facilitate the grant, and Momentum Aroostook worked with students in UMPI’s Strategic Professional Communication course to develop the recruitment tool to meet area needs.
The tool is a comprehensive packet of information relating to family, social, community and regional offerings, attractions and assets. Businesses can send this package as an additional enticement for young professionals to move to the area.
Heather Mackinnon, a member of Momentum Aroostook who is employed at MMG Insurance, was instrumental in facilitating the project.
“We got a grant to do this and we envisioned working with area interns on it,” she said recently. “That didn’t work out, so we turned to UMPI and a class they were offering, Strategic Communications.”
The class developed a list of local resources, shopping destinations, cultural and outdoor activities and other items of interest. While the project is in paper form now, there are plans to put it online.
While the class not only garnered experience from conducting research and putting together a presentation for the project, it also received other benefits, according to Mackinnon.
“When working together to compile all of this data, the students had to go out into the community and talk to business leaders and owners,” she said. “They asked questions and received input about what should be included in the book. The business owners were crucial to offering ideas of activities and added ideas about activi-ties they do within their own companies.”
Along with that, Mackinnon said, the students presented results of their project at a dinner attended by business owners and leaders.
“That gave them a chance to network and it also gave them some job hunting experience,” she said.
With one part of the project behind them, the next phase will involve promoting the tool to interested for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout The County.