Starting next month and for the first time since August, the Katahdin region will have a new Eastern Maine Development Corp. representative charged with helping businesses grow and developing new business, officials said Wednesday.
The Katahdin Area Recovery and Expansion Committee will meet on March 2 at the East Millinocket town office to decide whether to hire Kimberly Moore, an EMDC business development specialist, to replace Jason Bird, who covered the region from February to August 2010. The KARE meeting scheduled for Wednesday was postponed because of the snowstorm.
KARE also will decide whether to continue a $10,000 service contract with EMDC that would keep the development agency as the region’s primary economic development engine. The $10,000 would come from a Community Development Block Grant and $2,500 in funding from East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket, Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said.
Conlogue and Mark Scally, East Millinocket’s Board of Selectmen chairman, said they would support renewing the contract.
“We haven’t had a lot of clients who have stepped forward,” Conlogue said Wednesday. “It will certainly pick up when we have a new person here and we are looking for it to pick up when she gets here.”
Under the contract, Moore would hold office hours in the region a day a week until October 2011. She would help businesses start or grow by writing grants, seeking appropriate business aid programs and helping businesses develop better skills, among other things.
Despite the absence of a representative, EMDC has assisted the region’s businesses but on an as-needed or as-requested basis, Conlogue said.
The relatively short length of time EMDC has been employed makes it difficult to assess the agency’s effectiveness in improving the Katahdin business climate, Scally said. “But I know they have helped individual businesses,” he said.
EMDC officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
As part of KARE business on March 2, the committee will review two grant applications from two regional businesses. Conlogue declined to comment specifically on the applications, except to say that if granted, both applications would help pay for capital improvements to existing Katahdin region businesses.
The applications will first be examined by a KARE subcommittee charged with grant review, he said.
Previous KARE grants have helped pay for expansions to the East Branch Sno-Rovers clubhouse in Medway that have helped build a snowmobile drag-racing site there; the launch of an East Millinocket restaurant, Soup to Nuts; and the construction of a multiuse recreational trail bridge in Millinocket, among other things. All of the accepted applications were approved because committee members felt that the initiatives would draw more people and money to the region or help create new jobs.