Trade and Transportation Event Looks to Maine’s Future 

Many economists say manufacturing jobs are coming back stateside in a big way.

A forum Wednesday in Bangor looked at just how equipped Maine is to compete for these jobs.

Leaders who spoke Wednesday say major upgrades to both rail and shipping are key components to this region being viable in trade going forward.

“This event is very important because there’s currently a project to dredge Searsport Harbor, or a proposed plan to dredge Searsport Harbor. And Searsport has a direct impact on the entire viability of this economic region, said Jim Therriault, V.P. of Marketing for Sprague Energy.

They say their goal is to get local business leaders to support federal funding for the dredging in Searsport.

“The ships over the last 40 years, since the channel was last maintained, have gotten quite a bit larger in size, and if we want to be able to tap into international markets, we need to be able to tap into international shipping, said Capt. David Gelinas of the Penobscot Bay Pilots Association.

There are some state lawmakers and environmentalists who are concerned about the size of the dredging project.

The U.S. Congress will also have to approve it.

Discussion also focused on the role of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which just underwent a change of ownership. Transportation leaders say MMA is a vital component a port-rail corridor.