Sen. Snowe compliments technical center
The Maine Senator called the project an effort to control the area’s destiny.

RUMFORD – U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe commended the River Valley Growth Council for pushing for a regional technical center when she visited Tuesday afternoon.

“You’re smart to take this on,” she said of the future River Valley Technology Center as she toured the downtown former bag mill. “For Rumford, it’s a chance to diversify.”

RVTC Director Norman MacIntyre told of the vision he and the Growth Council have for the century-old brick building. It will become a training center for students in the precision metal trades and a place for small businesses to get their start. The RVTC is one of seven statewide to be developed.

But what’s needed is more money to complete the plan.

Bids came back last month for the renovation of the second floor and the installation of the building’s infrastructure. They came in too high, said MacIntyre, about $900,000 more than federal and state money available to do the project.

MacIntyre said he has had serious talks with a potential call center business, along with others. The CareerCenter, now located in downtown Rumford, also seeks to move into the RVTC once it is renovated, said Paul Gilbert.

Snowe said the RVTC and RVGC should view such buildings as assets and not liabilities.

“It is right downtown and it becomes a symbol,” she said.

“We want it to become a magnet, a focal point,” said MacIntyre. “With the exception of Loring, we have more potential space than any other business incubator.” The former bag mill that last operated as a manufacturing center for shoe soles closed in 1982.

She assured the technology center board members who toured the building with her that her office would do all that they could to try to find money to complete the project, a project that she said was an effort to control the area’s destiny.

“We will put the RVGC and RVTC in touch with the people and organizations that may help,” she said.

Among her suggestions to MacIntyre was further contact with the Economic Development Administration. This is the federal agency that provided the RVTC with more than $1 million to be used for the renovation of the mill.

MacIntyre said at a RVTC board meeting following the tour with the senator that he has contacted the EDA. And although he believes more money will be coming from the agency, he doesn’t know how much just yet.

He said, too, that if the governor’s economic bond issue passes on June 10, the RVTC will get a portion of $2 million set aside in it for four of the state’s technology centers. He said he should know by next week how much that amount will be.

Snowe visited the future RVTC as part of a tour to several Maine regions to discuss economic development and the federal prescription drug program.

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