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  • Speaker Eves highlights Belfast- a city full of wonder and job growth

    Front Yard Shipyard set up business in 2010, has expanded and now occupies an area where old chicken factories used to be in Belfast. Gov. Baldacci's Pine Tree Zones helped to attract the company to the city.

    Photo by Ramona du Houx

     Green jobs and health care innovation were the focus of a statewide jobs tour led by House Speaker Mark Eves in the Belfast area on August 20, 2015. 

    The tour came as news broke that Verso Paper Mill would layoff 300 workers. 

    “The layoffs at Verso are reminder of how important it is for our leaders to focus on growing good jobs and strong wages in our state. Our state lags the nation in job growth and we must do better,” said Eves, D-North Berwick. “Belfast is leading the way when it comes to writing Maine’s comeback story. We’ve seen area leaders, business, workers, and the entire community come together to turnaround the city from the former home of a collapsing poultry processing industry to a vibrant city, growing jobs in alternative energy, healthcare and local manufacturing.”

    The burgeoning bayside city has been profiled for its “green renaissance,” focusing on local job growth in sustainable industries, from alternative energy to local food and health care innovation. In the 1950's Belfast was known as a chicken processing center where the bay's water was once full of chicken parts. Since 2002 the Baldacci administration helped grow the creative economy of the area with bonds for communities and Pine Tree Zone tax breaks. Local citizens took the opportunities to bring back their city.

    ReVision Energy has doubled its workforce in Liberty this year and now employs 101 people.

    “We are creating good-paying local jobs by helping Mainers make the transition to clean, renewable energy," said ReVision co-founder Phil Coupe. "Some of our best workers come straight to us from Kennebec Valley Community College, bringing the traditional strong Maine work ethic and the highly valuable trades skills that ensure our customers get the highest quality solar installations.”

    “ReVision is providing an antidote to our rising energy costs and our stalled job growth,” said Rep.Christine Burstein. “The work they are doing with community solar farms, which offers solar energy to groups of users, offers so much promise for our future.”

    At AthenaHealth in Belfast, lawmakers learned how the company is using innovative technology to service the healthcare providers and manage data. The company employs 800 workers and is adding 200 new jobs. The Department of Economic and Community Development during the Baldacci administration brought AtheaHealth to Belfast.

    The company has hired workers who have been laid off from closing mills around the state.

    Speaker Eves launched the jobs tour in January to spotlight the need for more jobs and better wages in the state. Lawmakers have met with employers, workers, and community leaders across the state in York, Aroostook, Kennebec, and Somerset counties.   The meetings prompted lawmakers to create the Put ME to Work program this session to partner with employers to train workers across the state for good paying-jobs in growing industries, such as logging, agriculture, health care and manufacturing.