CARIBOU, Maine — In the past, economic development groups have mainly relied on newspapers and television segments to spread the word about job and business growth in Aroostook County.
Today’s generation, however, turns to the Internet for most of its information.
With that in mind, officials at Aroostook Partnership for Progress and Northern Maine Development Corp. are partnering on Advancing Aroostook, a new twice-monthly video series to address issues of business and economic importance and to get the attention of youth early in order to get them to remain in Maine.
Both the Aroostook Partnership and NMDC work to promote The County, bring jobs to the region, expand businesses and advance tourism. Bob Dorsey, president of Aroostook Partnership, said late last week that while he has only been at the helm of the organization for a year, it quickly became evident to him that many youths were being told that they had to leave the region and often the state to find good jobs.
“I knew that we had to do something to mitigate that impression,” said Dorsey.
Dorsey collaborated with Jon Gulliver, director of investor and community relations for NMDC, and Ryan Pelletier, executive director of the Aroostook/Washington Workforce Investment Board, to create Advancing Aroostook.
The video series airs on WAGM TV and is available on YouTube. Gulliver said that it is a way to quickly let people of all ages know about the long-term employment forecast for the region, tip them off about growing industries, and also educate people about jobs that they may have not otherwise heard much about.
“We plan to talk more in depth about biomass and how it has grown in the region,” said Gulliver. “We have just recently spoken about the Aroostook County Jobs Projection Project, which identified more than 1,800 new jobs that are projected to become available in The County in the next five years. All of the employers who have projected openings also have estimated salaries and provided information about the required education levels.”
Pelletier said he felt that Advancing Aroostook was a good idea, especially to appeal to high school students who are thinking about future careers.
“It’s always a bit harder to make an impression when you are just passing out handouts and statistics,” said Pelletier. “But when you have a program like Advancing Aroostook that has a variety of different visuals while offering data that says that 1,800 jobs are projected to open in areas such as health care and business over the next five years, for example, it is easier for them to see that they can get the right training and there will be jobs open for them when they are ready to enter the workforce.”
Dorsey said he felt it was especially important to use Advancing Aroostook to raise awareness about the future job projections and the educational system.
“The students that are in junior high and high school now are the age that will be graduating and heading to college or into the workforce when those 1,800 jobs are projected to become available,” he said. “So I think its very important to reach them and let them know the realities here. Maine is an aging state. People are going to be retiring and aging out, so jobs will be opening. Along with that, new jobs in the public and private sector will be being created. A number of those job openings will be for plumbers, electricians and carpenters, where you only need another year or two of higher education. You don’t always need a four year degree. So you spend $6,000 or $7,000 on higher education and you make six or seven times that in salary your first year. That’s a pretty good return on your investment.”
For more information on Advancing Aroostook, log on to the Aroostook Partnership for Progress website at www.appme.org.