Rural revitalization leadership training needed in Maine, the US, and worldwide

The following Bangor Daily News editorial points out the need to rural revitalization leadership training in the U.S. state of Maine, but it could easily apply to any U.S. state. Or any nation on the planet, for that matter.

In the absence of a training budget, rural leaders could put themselves far ahead of the game simply by reading this new revitalization strategy guide:

Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine and the largest mountain lake in the eastern United States. Situated in the Longfellow Mountains in the Maine Highlands Region, the lake is the source of the Kennebec River. Towns that border the lake include Greenville to the south and Rockwood to the northwest. There are over 80 islands in the lake, the largest being Sugar Island. The area has been the focal point of a controversy surrounding planned large scale commercial development, and the environmental practices of the developer.

Local non-profit groups have been emerging to address the area’s revitalization needs. Our Katahdin is one of them. They have been crowdfunding local revitalization initiatives. Our Katahdin is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization working to promote community and economic development in the Katahdin region. The core of Our Katahdin is a website for people who love the Katahdin region and believe in its future. Our Katahdin is a connector — pulling together ideas, people and money to move the community forward.

From the Bangor Daily News editorial:
It’s possible to show the decline of Maine’s rural areas in numerical terms.

The working-age population in the state’s outlying, rural rim counties — Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Aroostook and Washington — has contracted more than 20 percent since 1999. The last time those six counties as a group saw more births than deaths was in 1995. And as Maine finally gains back the economic ground it lost during the Great Recession, the state’s rural regions aren’t necessarily sharing in the recovery. Maine’s more rural counties have seen consistently slower job growth than their more urban counterparts.

Economic revitalization will look different in every Maine region based on what each region has to offer that can serve as a competitive edge. But there is a major component economic comebacks, especially homegrown comebacks, will have in common: strong leadership.

The path forward for every rural Maine region that’s struggling today won’t come from the State House in Augusta. For individual regions, it’s more likely to come from within. But a local resident with the passion to help her community might benefit from a way to develop her leadership skills so she can lead her community in developing an agreed-upon vision for the future.

She could benefit from knowing which experts her community could consult for help and which entities the community might apply to for grants. She would also benefit from connecting with leaders from other rural regions in Maine and across the U.S. undertaking revitalization efforts in their own communities so she has peers from whom she can seek advice.

This is a role many of Maine’s existing leadership development programs could assume.

See full editorial in Bangor Daily News.

See Our Katahdin website.

See Moosehead Lake Regional Economic Development Corp. website & photo credit.

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