There are a number of entities whose mission is, in part, to promote economic development in Washington County. Some are organized geographically, some by the type of business, and some by the fundamental belief that Washington County communities are the best place in which to live. While local efforts are applauded, Washington County seeks to promote the entire county.
The Sunrise County Economic Council serves to promote economic development work in Washington County. “SCEC works to empower organizations that are playing critical roles in the development and advancement of Washington County, help local leadership address local issues, convene citizens to work toward common goals, and encourage regional cooperation. SCEC uses a grassroots approach to economic and community development. By seeking common ground, working across political, municipal and economic boundaries, SCEC and its partners are moving Washington County forward.”
The Washington County Unorganized Territories (about 45% of the total land area of the County) have a TIF (Tax Increment Financing District) as a result of wind power development in the northern part of the county. The Washington County UT TIF Program was created through cooperative efforts of the Maine Legislature and Washington County Government with assistance from Sunrise County Economic Council. The TIF Grant and Loan Program provides financial assistance to start and/or grow a business located in the Unorganized Territories. Recent grant awards have funded a maple syrup producer’s purchase of equipment; internet service providers received matching grant funds to expand broadband coverage in previously un-served areas; and feasibility studies to examine the construction of a poultry processing facility and eco-tourism ventures.
Washington County needs citizens who appreciate the diversity of the people, businesses, and communities across the county. Who would not benefit from leaders who will see the challenges and opportunities as countywide, who can see how an investment in one area will strengthen the whole. The Washington County Leadership Institute, designed for and by Washington County people, empowers individuals to seek opportunities for the county, work with change, and commit to improving the economic and social life of the entire region. The Institute includes nine day-long sessions, approximately two weeks apart, in various locations across the county. Participants take part in workshops led by professional facilitators and WCLI alumni. They are exposed to insights and knowledge from Washington County entrepreneurs and others who have had success in employing the unique resources of the county and the people who enhance the way of living in Downeast Maine.