Border meeting, holiday greetings
MBTA Holiday Meeting focuses on border economy
Sandford blitz was the headliner at the MBTA Holiday Meeting, and he had a lot to say about economic opportunities on Maine’s border with Canada. Blitz is the federal co-chair of the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), and he introduced more than 100 MBTA members and friends to a concept in economic development that has been tried with good success in other regions of the country.
The Northern Border Regional Commission covers a 36-county region in four states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. The commission was established by the U.S. Congress in 2009, and it is modeled on seven other regions targeted by earlier congressional funding, including the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). ARC was founded in 1965 by Congress and has become a model for successful rural economic development. Each of the eight regional commissions currently authorized by Congress govern multi-state areas marked by higher than average poverty and unemployment, loss of population and lower than average per capita personal income.
Blitz is no stranger to the challenges of economic development. He is a former U.S. Small Business Administration regional administrator and adjunct professor with the University of Maine’s Department of Public Administration specializing in economic development, intergovernmental affairs, and regional governance.
At the Holiday Meeting, he shared what he called “the gangrene map” with the crowd, and it showed the sprawling reach of the commission. In Maine, a large area of the state is eligible for NBRC funding – 12 out of 16 Maine counties are included in the region: Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo and Washington. Blitz talked about how funding for transportation and telecommunications infrastructure are the highest priorities given to projects receiving NBRC funding.
The commission will award a total of $30 million in grants by 2012. Funding for the commission is awarded to projects that meet specific criteria regarding their role in improving rural infrastructure – transportation and communication. Transportation projects must comprise at least 40 percent of all of the investments that are funded.
Members also got the chance to meet 12 recent MBTA Education Foundation Scholarship winners from the University of Maine and Washington County Community College. Students in attendance included Stephen Bates, Joseph Birckhead, Justin Cleaves, Alan Farrington, Bo Li, Joshua Luce, Annika Matthiasson, Alex Michaud, Samedy Oun, Dylan Smith and Katy Grimes, all from UMaine; and Ronald St. John from Washington County Community College. Also in attendance was Professor Phil Dunn, from the Construction Management department of UMaine.
As is tradition, the MBTA announced winners of two of its biggest annual events at the December 9 meeting: the annual membership recruitment contest and the Super Raffle.
This year, members were very supportive of the Super Raffle that raises funds for the MBTA Educational Foundation. The $50 tickets sold out before the Holiday Meeting, and the effort raised over $17,000. The foundation provides scholarships and other educational opportunities to students pursuing careers in transportation-related fields. CPM Constructors took home the top Super Raffle prize – a $7,000 trip to anywhere in the world.
Once again, the top ticket seller was Bruce Hubbard of ETTI, who sold 131 tickets – more than 25 percent of all the tickets sold; and once again, Bruce donated the gift certificate he won as the top salesperson back – this time to be split between two scholarship students: Justin Cleaves and Alan Farrington.
Paul Koziell of CPM Constructors placed second, selling 75 tickets. John Wardwell of Lane Construction Corporation was third and sold 61 tickets. All told, the committee, chaired by MBTA Educational Foundation chair Doug Hermann, sold 500 tickets.
Other committee members included: Lauren Corey, Greg Dore, Debbie Dunlap Avasthi, Phil Grondin, Jr., Don Raye, and Randy Mace.
This year, despite the challenging economy, the Membership Committee was very successful in bringing new members into the organization. Committee members recruited 31 new corporate and non-profit members and seven individuals. Eric Ritchie of The Lane Construction Corporation, who was also the committee chairman, brought in the most new members and took home first place in the recruitment contest. Scott Preston of Wellman Paving placed a close second (only five points separated the two); and Jay Shorette of Dirigo Slipform placed third.
Many thanks to all of our members who worked on the Membership Committee and helped sell Super Raffle tickets. Your efforts helped put us over the top in 2010!