Sunrise County Economic Council Named Great Region Partner

USDA Rural Development has officially designated the counties of Aroostook, Piscataquis, and Washington as the Maine USDA Great Region.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel presents a Great Region Designation Plaque to Sunrise County Economic Council Executive Director Harold Clossey

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel presents a Great Region Designation Plaque to Sunrise County Economic Council Executive Director Harold Clossey

The official launch of the Great Region initiative in Maine took place at a Roundtable on Thursday August 8 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.  Northern Maine Development Commission, Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, and Sunrise County Economic Council were named as the key partners that will work with USDA Rural Development to help facilitate efforts in the three county region.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “This important designation concentrates on Aroostook, Piscataquis, and Washington Counties to promote economic growth and development around common strengths in the region. Together with our partners we will encourage efforts to stimulate local and regional food system activities and the
bio-based economy.”

Sunrise County Economic Council Executive Director Harold Clossey said, “I am so pleased Sunrise County Economic Council has been selected to be a key partner in Maine’s Great Region and I look forward to supporting the initiative with all of the resources and ingenuity that Washington County has to offer.”

During the Roundtable the agencies engaged 25 stakeholders to identify opportunities for growth in the Great Region’s key focus areas of Local and Regional Food Systems and the Bio-based Economy. The discussion included questions and comments on access to capital for rural farmers, programs and funding available through the partner agencies, and potential for collaboration.

A designated Great Region is a multi-county region with a regional economic development plan developed by a local/regional team with broad participation, where the plan is built upon careful analysis of the region’s assets, including its key current and emerging economic clusters. A region that is well positioned to embark on plan development is a region where key local institutions bring the open attitude and commitment that indicates the region is ready to develop or has developed a solid plan. The multi-county region can be within the state or may cross state boundaries.

USDA Rural Development’s existing programs such as the Rural Business Enterprise Grant, the Intermediary Relending Program, The Rural Business Opportunity Grant, the Value Added Agricultural Product Market Development Grant Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Community Facilities Program and the Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants may be some programs that can be accessed under the Great Region.

USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.

USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 62 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. USDA Rural Development invested a total of $402.5 million in Maine communities last Fiscal Year. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at

Skip to content