Washington County is a great place to live, work and play. And to own a business. In fact, it’s one of the most entrepreneurial counties in Maine with thousands of small- and micro-businesses, many of them one- or two-person operations which depend on the county’s natural resources to sustain the “Down East” lifestyle.
While lobster, blueberries and logging are the lifeblood of Down East Maine, our economy is evolving. People who have worked at sea all their lives are finding new employment opportunities in first-in-the-nation tidal energy generation, commercial aquaculture, and sustainable tourism. Strides in the county’s information technology infrastructure have given farmers and fishermen new skills to bring their products to market. The Port of Eastport, Maine’s deep water port, is the closest US port to many of the country’s international trading powers, and has undergone a multi-million dollar transformation in recent years.
The Woodland Mill, one of Washington County’s largest employers, recently completed installation of a natural gas pipeline that is allowing it to save millions in energy costs and explore ways to grow and diversify its business model, meaning increased opportunities for the county’s fledgling logging industry at a time many paper mills across the country are scaling back.
Washington County also offers a rich educational experience in the University of Maine at Machias (UMM), Washington County Community College (WCCC) and The Boat School in Eastport. UMM was one of the first universities in the nation to offer an environmental liberal arts program, giving students a unique and unfettered opportunity to study in one of the last unspoiled places on the East Coast. At the same time, WCCC has been equipping students with the skills and training they need to pursue quality service-sector jobs that keep Washington County going, and has been ranked in the Aspen Institute’s top 125 community colleges for two consecutive years. The Boat School equips aspiring boat-builders with the skills they need to keep one of Down East Maine’s core marine industries afloat. This is one of the USA’s oldest boat-building programs and includes wooden boat construction as well as composites.
And Washington County is growing. We’re part of a recently realigned regional economic development district with Aroostook County, known as the Aroostook-Washington Economic Development District (AWEDD), which is administrated by the Northern Maine Development Commission. This relationship gives businesses and communities from Machias to Madawaska and all points in between an ever growing network of economic and community development resources.