Over Busy District Work Period, Golden Hears from Small Businesses, Shipbuilders, Economic Development Leaders across Five Counties
LEWISTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) used the congressional district work period to travel across the Second District to meet with constituents in Androscoggin, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Somerset counties as well as Bath Iron Works last week. The congressman focused his time on small business and economic development in rural areas.
Golden began the work period at Bath Iron Works (BIW), to which he and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) had invited leaders from the House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Chairman Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Ranking Member Rob Wittman (VA-01). Courtney and Wittman’s visit came on the heels of reports that the administration is considering actions that could lead to a slowdown in shipbuilding at BIW. Golden and Pingree used the visit by Courtney and Wittman to push back against the reported changes and show the House Armed Services Committee leaders why Bath-built is best-built.
Later that night, Golden joined dozens of community members, including Representative Kristen Cloutier and Portland City Councilor Pious Ali, to celebrate new Lewiston City Councilor Safiya Khalid.
[Photo Credit: John Ochira]
Congressman Golden celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day at a breakfast celebration at the University of Maine. Golden was joined by Senator Angus King and Governor Janet Mills.
Tuesday took Golden to Piscataquis County, where he met with Dawn Willette, owner and operator of The Farm at Moosehead, a farm and restaurant in Greenville. The two spoke about the challenges small businesses face with complicated licensing and regulatory requirements. They also discussed the barriers to accessing health care as a rural small business owner.
Continuing his time in Piscataquis County, Golden toured Glacier Wear, a globally-recognized company that produces fur goods, with owners Colleen and Randy Richard and met Glacier Wear workers. The Richards discussed with the congressman the challenges of exporting and importing fur in Maine and health care accessibility for them and their workers..
Following his tour of the Farm at Moosehead and Glacier Wear, Congressman Golden joined members of the the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, the Piscataquis Chamber, Mayo Regional Hospital, and Adult Education in Dover-Foxcroft. The group talked over the options for federal resources available to support sustainable economic and workforce development in Piscataquis County.
Golden rounded out his time in Piscataquis County by meeting with the executive director and operations manager of Piscataquis Regional Food Center, Erin Callaway and Steve Grammont. They discussed healthy food access in Piscataquis County, as well as plans for a new facility that will serve as a food distribution center for the area.
On Wednesday, the director of the Small Business Administration's Office of Rural Affairs, Michelle Christian, accompanied Golden on a tour of small businesses in three Maine communities. Golden was part of a group that pressed the SBA to re-establish the Office of Rural Affairs. He raised a number of concerns about the agency’s outreach to rural areas as he questioned her at a Small Business Committee Hearing in September.
Christian, who came to Maine on Golden’s invitation, toured local small businesses with Golden, spoke with local officials — like Lewiston Mayor Mark Cayer. Rumford Town Manager Stacy Carter, and Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis, and met with local small business owners. Golden, Christian, the local officials, and the small business owners discussed what small businesses in rural Maine need to be successful and how to spur investment in rural areas, including improvements to the Opportunity Zones program.
On Friday, Golden drove to Jackman. That morning, he visited the Border Patrol Station and Jackman Port of Entry and heard from Port Director Timothy Lacasse, Division Chief Dennis Harmon, the Patrol Agent in Charge Jeffrey Scott Ewing and Deputy Patrol Agent in Charge Fred Bunkley. They discussed security on the Canadian border, Border Patrol’s role as first responders in Jackman, and the recruitment and retention of Border Patrol agents.
Golden also visited the Jackman Community Health Center with Selectman Alan Duplessis, Chief Bill Jarvis, of Jackman-Moose River Fire and Rescue, and Dr. Patricia Doyle. There, they emphasized the role of the health center in the community, and addressed billing challenges that make it difficult for the facility to cover costs for the emergency care they provide to patients.
Friday afternoon, Golden hosted a community roundtable nearby in Moose River. More than two dozen people attended, including Jackman town officials, representatives of Unity College, the Passamaquoddy Nation, Jackman Community Health Center, Skowhegan Savings Bank, E.J. Carriers, U.S. Border Patrol, Pleasant River Lumber, Professional Loggers of Maine, and the Forest Hills School, and the owners of Jarvis Forest Management, St. Peter Safety Services, Bishop’s Store, Bishop’s Motel, Mountain Country Supermarket, and Shelley Logging and Excavation. The group discussed a range of challenges small business owners and their workers faced in the area, including improving local infrastructure and fighting food insecurity.
Golden rounded out his time in the district with a tour of Moose River Lumber. He was joined by plant manager Tom Sylvester, Kylan Mays, Jeff Desjardins all of Moose River Lumber, Jamie Shelly, a local logger and business owner, and Dana Doran, of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine. The five discussed housing for the workforce and recruitment challenges in Jackman.