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Maine Development Foundation

Press Release

Maine Development Foundation Announces Champions of Economic Development Award Winners


August 3rd, 2017

We are honored to announce this year’s Champions for Economic Development Award winners: Aroostook Aspirations, Maine Startup & Create Week, Robbins Lumber, and UniTel and Unity Foundation. Awards will be presented at the Maine Development Foundation Annual Meeting on September 28, 2017.


The Champion for Economic Development Award was created to recognize the exceptional work of an individual or organization in advancing the strategic priorities of the Maine Development Foundation as we work to strengthen the Maine economy, increase the productivity of our workforce and realize the vision of a high quality of life for all Maine people.  The purpose of these awards is to celebrate outstanding efforts to promote economic development in Maine.


Winners must meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated commitment to economic growth in Maine at the state, regional or local level.
  • Demonstrated ability to collaborate and create partnerships in order to accomplish objectives.
  • High professional standards that model behavior for others. 
  • Innovativeness of idea/approach to economic development

Aroostook Aspirations:

The mission of Aroostook Aspirations Initiative is to “support the educational goals of the youth in our region and mobilize the future prosperity of Aroostook County.” Aroostook Aspirations Initiative is a non-profit organization that recognizes Maine’s skilled labor shortage. The organization focuses on supporting the academic and professional endeavors of Aroostook County students to help reduce outmigration, increase degree attainment, and boost the economy of the region. The organization provides a comprehensive Gauvin Scholar program for college success and leadership development to maximize opportunities in their future social and employment endeavors. Aroostook Aspirations’ dedication to their community extends further through their Internship Hub, annual County Service Challenge, networking, mentoring, and Opportunities Aroostook website as an opportunity to help students and businesses alike.


Maine Startup & Create Week:

Founded in 2014, Maine Startup & Create Week is a national conference that convenes founders, employees, supporters and enthusiasts of high-growth, high-impact startups and innovative companies. Each year the conference puts together a dynamic program that intentionally convenes speakers from outside of Maine, and from inside of Maine, on the trends, skills, and technology involved in building innovative companies. MSCW’s all-volunteer team spends more than 15,000 hours building and coordinating more than 60 events featuring more than 100 speakers. With now more than 10,000 attendees from more than 30 states over the first four years, the conference is the place for Mainers with high-growth, high-impact aspirations and those that support them to convene. It is a gathering place for the startup and innovation community to collide and to act on the values of "give-before-you get”. Through the conference’s effort to attention from national media, it has put Maine on the map as not just a great place to live, but a great place to build a startup and innovative company.  


Robbins Lumber:

Robbins Lumber’s commitment to sustainable forest management demonstrates an understanding to Maine’s way of life. Their commitment to responsible forest-economy practices serves to protect Maine’s environment, as well as the vital forest industry. Their dedication to our state is further demonstrated in their February announcement to build a biomass plant. This plan exhibits ingenuity and dedication to Maine’s people, economy, and environment as it advances the forest industry towards stability in a rapidly changing landscape.


UniTel and Unity Foundation:

UniTel, Inc. is an independent provider of broadband and telecommunications services in Central Maine serving over 5,000 households and businesses.  Through residential and business broadband, and the new Fiber To The Home option, UniTel provides reliable broadband connections to its customers.  

Unity Foundation was founded in 2000 to provide support to Maine’s nonprofits working in the areas of youth, education, economic development, environment, and arts and culture.  Over the years, Unity Foundation has awarded more than $18million in grants to Maine’s nonprofit sector. The Foundation partners with other funders and for-profit businesses to support Maine’s rural economies.

Since 2015, demonstrating their recognition that in today’s high speed, interconnected world, modern technological fluency is a requirement, UniTel and the Unity Foundation have partnered to bring cutting-edge technology and educational opportunities to the region.  In a first-in-the-state digital literacy program, classes were made available free-of-charge to area residents and businesses.  Topics included internet safety, Microsoft products, social media, QuickBooks, WordPress, Streaming and more.  Over 1,100 students accessed the education in Unity and Belfast and logged more than 4,950 hours of classroom instruction during the two and one-half year program.





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