May 26, 2018
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EMDC lays off three employees as federal funding shrinks

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Michael Aube
By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Eastern Maine Development Corp. has laid off three full-time employees, primarily due to the expiration of some federal stimulus programs.

“Yes, we did lay off three people last week,” EMDC President Michael Aube confirmed. “It was due to a variety of reasons, but primarily contracts expiring.”

Aube said stimulus funds available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which have been available over the last three years, have dried up as those programs have not been extended or renewed.

“That has prompted us to reorganize a bit in terms of our manpower to become more efficient and reduce our overall overhead costs to insure more dollars go to direct program delivery,” said Aube. “The layoffs were not based on tenure.”

Aube said the layoffs were decided by using a formula based partly on expiring stimulus dollars as well as state and local contracts not being renewed.

Aube emphasized that the recent creation by Gov. Paul LePage of a new State Workforce Investment Board responsible for job training efforts — one of EMDC’s primary services — had no bearing on Friday’s layoffs.

“This is not a surprise for us,” Aube added. “I want to make sure the work force development piece did not trigger that at this time. That program doesn’t expire with us until June 30.”

Asked what EMDC would do if the program expires with no renewal or suitable substitute program, Aube said, “If that were to be discontinued, it would certainly have a significant impact on us. But I am optimistic we can demonstrate what we’ve done and retain that component of our services.”

EMDC is a private, nonprofit agency established in 1967 that promotes work force enhancement and community development. It also provides services at the small-business level to stimulate the economy in Penobscot, Hancock and Piscataquis counties.

“We are one of only 37 agencies around the country providing this kind of service,” said Aube. “We do contract work, so our work force is largely dependent on the work we’re getting. We used to receive federal and state funding and projects, but now it’s primarily federal.”

Seven EMDC employees were laid off last June for similar reasons. With the latest cuts, EMDC’s work force totals 53 employees, according to Aube.

“I think we’re going to go through a period of time of adjustment as federal and state dollars are lessening, and we have to continue to adjust,” Aube said.

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