Katahdin-area adviser hits ground running

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 13, 2010, at 6:59 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — The Katahdin region’s newest economic development adviser will meet with his new bosses on Feb. 24.

Jason Bird, a community development specialist with Eastern Maine Development Corp., began working one day a week in the region about two weeks ago.

“He is hitting the ground running and doing exactly what we have asked him to do,” Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue told the Town Council on Thursday.

The Katahdin Area Recovery and Expansion Committee, known as KARE, voted 14-2 during a meeting at the East Millinocket town office in late December to pay EMDC $8,125 to have one of its representatives visit East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket weekly to work with businesses. Mark Scally and Jim Federico of East Millinocket opposed the plan.

The vote was the committee’s second on the Millinocket proposal. The panel narrowly defeated an earlier Millinocket push to hire the agent, saying that Millinocket’s effort would undermine the volunteer subcommittee of local business owners that recommended against the program.

Most committee representatives from East Millinocket and Medway had balked at Millinocket’s proposal and quietly expressed resentment at Millinocket’s push, saying that its town officials had in effect tried an end run around the committee whose job it was to screen such ideas.

Bird will work in the region until June 30, 2010. A portion of the $75,000 that Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. pays the region annually as compensation for the Brookfield-owned mill’s shutdown will fund his efforts.

EMDC has contracted with Millinocket to provide economic development services on an as-needed basis, but that effort has drawn relatively little interest, Millinocket officials have said. They believe, and KARE eventually agreed, that Bird’s work will help the region qualify for a federal grant that would pay a development agent as much as $500,000 for up to five years to improve the region’s economy.

A development specialist with EMDC since 2007, Bird is responsible for grant writing and administration and program design and implementation for several projects, according to emdc.org.

Bird has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration. He has worked for the University of Maine System office and the state Department of Labor.

Town businesses should “take advantage of this young gentleman and his expertise to schedule time with him,” Millinocket Councilor Michael Madore said.

Bird will discuss his work so far at the KARE meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at East Millinocket’s town office. He may be reached at jbird@emdc.org, 942-6389 or toll free at 800-339-6389.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/02/13/news/katahdinarea-adviser-hits-ground-running/ printed on November 24, 2014