Congressman Michaud receives lifetime achievement award for economic development work

BY RAMONA DU HOUX

March 12th, 2013 

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President John Leonard, and Bob Clark of NMDC, present the Economic Development award to Congressman Mike Michaud

“Simply put, EDA and all our regions that use the funds it provides have had no better friend in Congress than Mike Michaud. For 10 years he has been an advocate for economic development and the best spokesman in Congress for the benefits of these critical investments,” said Bob Clark, the Executive Director of the Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC), after he presented the the National Association of Development Organizations’ (NADO) Lifetime Achievement Award to Congressman Mike Michaud for his leadership in promoting federal economic development programs.

“I’m humbled to receive this award,” said Michaud, a longtime member of the Economic Development Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I’ve been proud to work closely with Maine’s economic development experts over the years and to advocate for the resources and policies so critical to their missions. Creating jobs and supporting businesses in our communities must be the top priorities of Congress right now.”

Michaud saw an opening to help Maine communities with workforce and economic development by working with the the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to obtain federal funding for Maine. The EDA is the only federal agency focused exclusively on economic development. Since EDA’s founding, projects funded by the agency have created over four million private sector jobs and leveraged roughly $150 billion in private sector investment.

Michaud also authored the law that established the Northern Border Regional Commission, which provides economic development funding focused on distressed communities in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York. Michaud has also long supported other critical economic development programs, including those in the Small Business Administration and the USDA.

“Mike Michaud has led the charge in Congress not only for EDA reauthorization, but also for EDA funding. He has authored and sponsored legislation protecting and increasing EDA funding and worked with the Obama Administration on issues of critical importance to our members,” said NADO President John Leonard.

From a previous interview in 2007 with the Congressman in Maine Insights this is what he had to say about EDA:

“Why can’t we have one?” was the question Second District Congressman Mike Michaud asked, once he learned about the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Michaud serves on the Economic Development Subcommittee of the Transportation Committee, and when they were reviewing the progress ARC had made, the then newly elected representative from Maine envisioned how beneficial it would be for Maine and the Northeast region to have a similar commission. Four years later the Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act of 2007 — a bill which contained the congressman’s Northern Border Regional Commission — passed.

ARC was created by Congress in 1965. According to the National Association of Development Organizations, since its creation ARC has reduced the number of distressed counties in its region from 219 to 100, cut the poverty rate from 31 percent to 15 percent, and helped 1,400 businesses create 26,000 new jobs since 1977.

Q. You created the Northern Border Regional Commission, which has been a breakthrough for economic development based on ARC.

A. ARC was a bold idea and it worked. I thought it would serve our region well using it as a model. This federal-state partnership was charged with promoting development in the depressed Appalachian region through regional planning, technical assistance, and funding of projects aimed at encouraging economic prosperity.

Q. What improvements can the people of Maine begin to see in 2009?

A. We have seen a clear and persistent pattern of economic distress in Maine and across the northern border of our region. The loss of manufacturing and natural resource-based industries and aging, crumbling infrastructure is of great concern to all of our communities. Transportation, basic public infrastructure, water and sewer, telecommunications, health care and business development projects can all be funed through this new commission.

Q. It’s projected that the Northern Border Regional Commission will allocate $30 million annually for Maine. When will the funds be forthcoming?

A. Passing the Northern Border Regional Commission was a huge success this year. Now that it is law, the next step is to get it funded. I have been working with fellow New England congressional delegation members to advocate for funding so that we can put it to work for our region’s economic development.