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

Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC) announced Friday that USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel will keynote the Council’s 20th anniversary dinner at the Lee Pellon Center in Machias October 30. During her remarks, Manuel is expected to overview several USDA Rural Development programs, including those that directly impact Washington County’s small- and micro-business community. In addition her remarks will focus on a new collaborative, USDA’s recently announced Great Region in Maine, which focuses on promoting local and regional food systems and the bio-based economy in the tri-county region of Aroostook, Washington and Piscataquis counties.

“Twenty years ago a group of small-businesspeople got together and started looking at ways they could improve Washington County’s economy. That core group identified our assets, built consensus, formed partnerships with others who shared a vision for the future, and formed SCEC,” Executive Director Harold Clossey said. “Over time, we’ve expanded upon that and recognized that Washington County is unique, but it is also a big piece of a broader puzzle. SCEC has developed relationships with Aroostook and Piscataquis counties, and really statewide, to develop win-win strategies where the whole of rural Maine benefits. USDA Rural Development’s Great Regions Initiative dovetails with that nicely and truly highlights some of the great things we as a region can do when we work together.”

Manuel, who grew up in an Aroostook County potato farming family, was appointed USDA Rural Development State Director in 2009, bringing over twenty-five years’ experience in business, state economic development, and international trade in both government and the private sector to the position.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to join Sunrise County Economic Council’s 20th Anniversary celebration, and to speak to business leaders about bolstering economic growth and development in the County,” USDA RD State Director Virginia Manuel said. “USDA Rural Development and SCEC have a longstanding and critical partnership in building a strong future for Washington County, and as a result SCEC/Washington County has been selected as a key partner/area in the USDA Rural Development’s Great Region Initiative. We will work closely together to promote economic opportunity in Down East Maine and other areas within the region and beyond.”

Council officials will also present their 2013 annual report, update the public on continuing initiatives in renewable energy, small-business finance, and training and workforce development. SCEC will also welcome incoming Board members Kevin Athearn (University of Maine at Machias), Sean Daye (Machias Savings Bank), Mark Green (Washington Hancock Community Agency), and Chris Snowdeal (CES, Inc); and honor outgoing Directors Josh Bragg (CES, Inc), Phil Grant (Husson University emeritus), Jody Grimes (Lubec Rental Properties), Cindy Huggins (UMM), Chris Lyford (Machias Savings Bank), and Meredith Snowman (Boston Shoe Store in Calais).

The event, which runs from 4-6:30 PM at the Lee Pellon Center (90 Main Street) in Machias, is being catered by Helen’s Restaurant, and will feature a choice of mushroom and goat cheese stuffed chicken or salmon with mustard dill sauce as the main entree, and include appetizers and dessert. A cash bar is also available.

Advance registration is required by October 23. Cost is $25 per person. Please follow this link to register for SCEC’s 20th Anniversary Celebration online, or mail your check (and entrée selection) to SCEC at 53 Prescott Drive, Suite 3 Machias, ME  04654. Questions, contact SCEC Communications Manager Will Tuell at 207-255-0983 or by email at

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