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USDA Rural Development

| August 8, 2013

A presentation was held on UMPI’s campus this morning to announce the collaboration of Aroostook County, Piscataquis County, and Washington County in becoming a USDA Great Region. It’s the first such designation in the state, and one that hopes to spur economic growth.

USDA Rural Development is committed to increasing economic opportunity in rural America; and it’s bringing that commitment to our part of the Pine Tree State.

The State Director of  USDA Rural Development Virginia Manuel says, “To be called a Great Region not only is a special designation by USDA but it also implies a responsibility, and the responsibility is to partner with us to figure out ways based on the strengths of the 3 counties to promote even more economic growth in the region.”

Part of the initiative is to seek out new business opportunities, and to take advantage of the assets that are already in all 3 counties.

The Executive Director of NMDC Robert Clark says, “Our economy is built on our natural resources and it’s primarily forestry, agriculture, and the associated manufacturing processing facilities that support those industries.”

The USDA’s areas of emphasis in the great region include supporting the local and regional based food systems, and advancing the bio-based economy.

The State Director of  USDA Rural Development Virginia Manuel says,  “Aroostook being the largest agricultural region in the state, definitely support the 2 sectors that we’ve identified which is supporting local agriculture and renewable energy projects.”

Thursday’s presentation opened up discussion to lay down the groundwork for the implementation of economic development in the 3-county region.

The Executive Director of NMDC Robert Clark says, “The Great Region is an initiative that will help us leverage our assets and have broad participation.”


Three key leading organizations that will join the USDA Rural Development in facilitating development in the Great Region include the Northern Maine Development Commission, Sunrise County Economic Council, and the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council.

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