During a visit to NMCC campus on August 23rd, U.S. Senator Angus King discusses the importance of mechanized logging, commercial driving, and offshore wind to the future of Maine’s economy.
Presque Isle — U.S. Senator Angus King visited Northern Maine Community College campus Tuesday to discuss the College’s strategy to employ Congressional Direct Spending funds for the workforce in Aroostook County. The meeting took place in NMCC’s CNC machining lab, showcasing a program the College developed in 2002 using $850,000 in congressional earmark funds. As of 2022, NMCC’s machining program has trained 400 skilled machinists, generating over $20M in value for the Maine economy.
“This lab highlights the impact of past congressional spending,” stated NMCC President Timothy Crowley. “When we developed this program 20 years ago, employers in the region couldn’t find trained machinists, and we rose to that challenge. Today we face a different set of challenges. I think we’re uniquely positioned to make an impact.”
Leah Buck, NMCC’s assistant dean of continuing education, updated Senator King on the status of the College’s mechanized logging operations program, occurring for its 6th year and located this summer northeast of Old Town. A $1,000,000 Congressionally Directed Spending project was recently announced to support the expansion of the mechanized logging program and enhance the training. The funds also create an opportunity for loggers to participate in the College’s Commercial Driving Academy.
The funds allow two additional cohorts of students to participate in both the logger training program and the CDL training over the next two years. “There are shortages of skilled and credentialed workers for both logging operators and CDL drivers, impacting Maine’s economy and our ability to move materials. We have successful short-term training programs that can quickly help people move into good-paying careers in the in the forest products industry,” stated Buck.
President Crowley outlined the roadmap for doubling the capacity of the College’s electrical program, expanding from 20 to 40 available spots for students. This expansion was made possible by 2022 congressional funding backed by Senator King. During the discussion, Senator King shared his own insights and anecdotes about the high demand for both electricians and logging professionals in Maine.
The group discussed the College’s partnership with Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) to begin a training facility and curriculum to prepare wind technicians to work on offshore wind turbines. The College’s joint application with MMA for $2.1M in congressional funds to support this effort – which has been advanced for approval by Senator King’s office and could be distributed in 2023 if approved – calls attention to the 156 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity in the Gulf of Maine, recognizing the gulf’s wind as one of the best natural resources in the world.
The offshore wind funding would come in the wake of recent federal funding for alternative energy through the Inflation Reduction Act, and build upon advancements in offshore technology developed by the University of Maine’s Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab. UMaine’s patented Volturnus technology allows offshore wind turbines to float rather than being moored to the ocean floor. This advancement allows wind farms to exist further offshore than previous wind projects and separates Maine strategically from other states advancing offshore wind projects.
At the conclusion of the meeting Senator King took questions from the group and gave a brief interview to a WAGM news reporter on the scene. “I’ve missed Aroostook County because of the pandemic,” Senator King said. “Being here at the community college is a big deal because they’re right in the middle of workforce training, which is one of our huge needs in Maine, and they’re doing a great job.”
To learn more NMCC’s 30+ programs or any of the continuing education opportunities at the College, please visit nmcc.edu or call admissions at (207) 768-2785.
# # #