The summit on rural Maine’s next economy brought together Mainers of all backgrounds.
Alan Caron, President of Envision Maine says, “Rural Maine has enormous potential in this changing world we’re in. Mainers are incredibly resourceful people and we have been for hundreds of years. If you’re not resourceful and resilient, you can’t stay here. And we’ve been through some tough times, but we’ll get through it and we are getting through it. It’s all helping each other.”
The event had a number of speakers and panelists who addressed different aspects of growing Maine’s economy.
Caron says, “We’ve got 10 workshops today. Ranging from everything from how educators are reinventing education to how we’re growing broadband connections around the state, how is Maine becoming the breadbasket of New England.”
Maine business owners say the summit is a great opportunity.
Vaughan Woodruff, Owner of Insource Renewables says, “Rural Maine is an important issue for me. I’m a 6th generation Mainer. I have two young boys. And we have to solve the issues that are facing the State and I think there’s a great deal of opportunity. I’m very excited about all the ideas that are here. The ability to bring these together and for people to network and recognize what’s working is a really neat opportunity.”
The main focus of the summit is the future.
Woodruff says, “We’ve seen a lot of young people leaving the State and our goal is for them to come back and I think a lot of times in small towns, we get stuck in our traditional ways of doing things. We were built on big mills that employed a lot of people and those opportunities aren’t there anymore. We’re seeing a lot of them shut down. It’s great to see the ones that are surviving, but if we’re going to really move forward as a state and as a rural economy, we have to take a look at the emerging technologies, the emerging businesses that can survive here.”
Caron says, “We’ve got to pivot. We’ve got to look to the future. And focus on what’s working, what people are doing and get behind those people.”