PISCATAQUIS COUNTY – During meetings today with business, health and community leaders in Piscataquis County, Governor Janet Mills applauded their efforts to strengthen economic development and improve access to health care in rural communities . She pledged her administration would continue to be a partner to rural Maine communities to improve the quality of life for their residents and ensure they remain great places to live, work and raise families. .
The Governor hosted a roundtable this afternoon with the Maine Highlands Working Communities Challenge Team in Dover-Foxcroft to receive an update on their efforts to strengthen economic development in Piscataquis Counties, Somerset and Penobscot.
The Maine Highlands team recently received a $375,000 grant over three years through the Maine Working Communities Challenge, a partnership between the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Mills administration, philanthropy and private employers focused on the strengthening economic opportunities in rural Maine 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 by 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 region and develop inclusive strategies to help communities thrive.
“I commend this impressive alliance of community leaders and organizations working together to strengthen the region’s economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “A lot of great things are happening here, and I’m optimistic about the future. My administration will continue to do everything in its power to support business growth and ensure rural Maine is a great place to be.” for people in Maine 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 and Helping Hands with Heart team. “We appreciate the Governor’s support and investment in this program, which will help us make a meaningful difference for people in the area.
“Partnerships play a key role in building community resilience,”said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Ministry of Economic and Community Development. “It was wonderful to learn first-hand about the important community partners working in the Maine Highlands to develop lasting, systemic solutions to persistent challenges.”
Earlier in the day, the Governor was also briefed by Northern Light CA Dean Hospital management on the construction of the new Moosehead Lake area hospital. The $23.1 million project will result in a new main hospital building that will house five private rooms with acute care/swivel beds, a 24/7 emergency department, as well as imaging and laboratory services . A separate new ambulance station and FAA-approved helipad will also be built, and the existing east wing will be renovated to house 10 private rooms with swing-out beds. The hospital’s design and technological capabilities will streamline the care provided by the CA Dean’s team and provide quick access to experts in Bangor and beyond, when needed. The new hospital is expected to open in the summer of 2023 and the east wing renovations and site demolition will be completed in 2024.
The Governor has made strengthening Maine’s healthcare workforce a priority. She recently launched Healthcare Training for ME, an initiative of her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to expand the availability of free, low-cost job training to help healthcare workers advance their careers, meet training needs employers in the health sector and to attract new workers to fast-growing fields.
“I applaud Northern Light for their commitment to providing excellent care to residents of the Moosehead area,” said Governor Mills. “Ensuring that our rural communities have access to healthcare is essential, and this new hospital will provide high quality healthcare 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 Farms for the Future program of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forests. 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 visit to 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 strive to provide healthy, local food and good jobs to hard-working Maine.
The Governor also made several stops in Greenville and Monson, including the Indian Hill Trading Post and Monson Health Clinic, and also met with a group of local city officials in Dover-Foxcroft. The governor will travel across the state in the coming weeks to meet with local officials and discuss the challenges facing Maine residents and the solutions that will help them.