PISCATAQUIS COUNTY – During meetings today with business, health, and community leaders across Piscataquis County, Governor Janet Mills applauded their efforts to strengthen economic development and improve access to health care in rural communities. She pledged that her Administration would continue to be a partner for Maine’s rural communities to improve quality of life for their residents and ensure that they remained great places to live, work, and raise a family.
The Governor this afternoon convened a roundtable discussion with the Maine Highlands Working Communities Challenge Team in Dover-Foxcroft to receive an update on their efforts to strengthen economic development across Piscataquis, Somerset, and Penobscot Counties.
The Maine Highlands Team was recently awarded a three-year, $375,000 grant through the Maine Working Communities Challenge, a partnership between the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Mills Administration, philanthropy, and private employers focused on strengthening economic opportunity in Maine’s rural communities.
In March, Governor Mills and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston announced that the Maine Highlands Team was one of six groups selected to receive a three-year implementation grant under the Maine Working Communities Challenge program. The effort is funded through a $1 million investment from Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and more than $2.7 million in private sector funds, contributions from local and national philanthropies, and Federal grants. The Maine Highlands Team was selected for their proposal to better understand the impact of poverty in the area and to develop inclusive strategies to help the communities prosper.
“I congratulate this impressive alliance of community leaders and organizations who are working together to strengthen the region’s economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “There are a lot of great things happening here, and I am optimistic about the future. My Administration will continue to do all we can to support the growth of businesses and to ensure that rural Maine is a great place for Maine people to live, work, and raise a family.”
“We are grateful that Governor Mills came to Dover-Foxcroft today to hear firsthand how community leaders are working together to improve economic opportunity in the Maine Highlands,” said Sue Mackey Andrews, Volunteer Facilitator for the Working Community Challenge Maine Highlands Team and Helping Hands with Heart. “We appreciate the Governor’s support and investment in this program, which will help us to make a meaningful difference for people across the region.”
“Partnerships play a key role in building community resiliency,”said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “It was wonderful to learn firsthand about the important work community partners are leading in the Maine Highlands to develop enduring, systemic solutions to persistent challenges.”
Earlier in the day, the Governor was also briefed by the leadership of Northern Light CA Dean Hospital on the construction of the Moosehead Lake Region’s new hospital. The $23.1 million project will result in a new main hospital building that will house five private rooms with acute/swing beds, a 24/7 emergency department, and imaging and lab services. A new, separate ambulance station and an FAA-approved helipad will also be built, and the existing East Wing will be renovated to house 10 private rooms with swing beds. The design and technological capabilities of the hospital will streamline care provided by the CA Dean team and provide rapid access to experts in Bangor and beyond, when needed. The new hospital is expected to open in the summer of 2023 and renovations to the East Wing and site demolition will be complete in 2024.
The Governor has made strengthening Maine’s health care workforce a priority. She recently launched Healthcare Training for ME, an initiative of her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to expand the availability of free and low-cost career training to help health care workers advance their careers, support workforce training needs of health care employers, and attract new workers to fast-growing fields.
“I applaud Northern Light for its commitment to providing excellent care for people across the Moosehead Region,” said Governor Mills. “Ensuring that our rural communities have access to health care is critical, and this new hospital will provide high quality care for years to come, further strengthening this region and making it an even more attractive place to live.”
Governor Mills also visited several businesses in Greenville and Monson, including Turning Page Farm, which received a grant from the Mills Administration through the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Farms for the Future Program. The program helps Maine farms grow.
“A farm that’s a brewery – you couldn’t ask for a better combination,” said Governor Mills of her tour of Turning Page Farm. “My grandparents were potato farmers in Aroostook County, so I know how hard our farmers work every day. My Administration will continue to support farms like Turning Page as they work to provide healthy, homegrown food and good jobs to hardworking Maine people.”
The Governor also made several stops in Greenville and Monson, including at Indian Hill Trading Post and Monson Health Clinic, and she also met with a group of local town managers in Dover-Foxcroft. The Governor will be traveling across the state in the coming weeks to meet with local officials and to discuss the challenges facing Maine people and solutions that will help them.