Maine business, nonprofit leaders tour Bethel
The Bethel Citizen - Alison Aloisio
March 17th, 2016
More than three dozen business and nonprofit leaders from across Maine came to Bethel recently and learned about Mt. Abram, the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, the Bethel Inn, The Gem Theater, and other local businesses.
They were here with the Maine Development Foundation’s “Leadership Maine” class to, among other objectives, learn about the economic drivers of Western Maine and understand the importance of tourism.
The MDF is a private, nonpartisan organization designed to drive long-term economic growth in Maine, according to Yellow Light Breen, MDF president.
The Leadership Maine class seeks to “connect people across sectors,” said Breen, in the hope of helping to fuel Maine’s economy. The class is evenly split between business and nonprofit members.
Through the connections made, the class members later “become a decentralized network. We like to knit them together through leveraging technology,” Breen said.
The leadership program this year includes senior managers and top executives from all over Maine, in areas that include construction, shipbuilding, health care, higher education,
banking, research labs, veterinary health products, restaurants, dental practices, mental
health providers and chambers of commerce and the state treasurer, he said.
On March 4 the group visited Mt. Abram to learn about the ski area’s environmental-
friendly energy projects and development plans for the future.
They also toured the still-developing MM&GM facility.
The class was visited at the Bethel Inn by theater and Gneiss Spice owners Wade Kavanaugh and Beth Weisberger, Maine Balsam Fir Products owner Wendy Newmeyer
and representatives from Maine Energy Systems. They also heard from Bethel Inn Managing Partner Allen Connors, Robin Zinchuk of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce on promoting Maine as a year round destination.
The Leadership Maine class has been offered for 23 years, and is structured around such activities as team-building retreats and tours of Maine to take in a wide variety of economic initiatives, businesses and organizations driving the regional and state economies.
With this class, the number of participants over the years will top 1,000, Breen said.
He said past class projects have helped inspire initiatives such as Project Login, an effort to grow the number of computer scientists and engineers in the state, and the Focus Maine program, aimed at accelerating job creation in targeted sectors.
The MDF has other programs as well, including tracking Maine’s economy and publishing the annual “Measures of Growth” report, which compiles such information as new business starts, number of high speed Internet subscribers, education measures and the costs of energy, health care and doing business.
MDF also supports the Maine Economic Growth Council, which sets goals for the future in those areas.
“We play a pretty unique role,” said Breen.
Applications are now being accepted for the next Leadership Maine classes. For details and more information on MDF go to MDF.org.