WISCASSET – Coastal Enterprises and a coalition of Androscoggin County partners are undertaking a three-year project to develop training and employment opportunities in the transportation, distribution and logistics sector.

Called the TDL Collaborative and funded by the federal government, the initiative will focus on strengthening the transportation, distribution and logistics sector in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

The first step of the project is to interview businesses in the sector and identify staff training and business assistance needs. Paul Scalzone, CEI’s program developer, said there is a need to “provide local business owners with employees who have appropriate industry-specific skills and understand the expectations of a workplace environment.”

Representatives from Lewiston-Auburn’s work force, training and economic development organizations will be conducting the interviews, according to a statement from Scalzone.

“Transportation, distribution and logistics is a large and growing part of the economy in Lewiston-Auburn,” said Chip Morrison, president of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, “and the TDL project will help support local companies in their work force development efforts.”

Owners of transportation-related businesses who agree to participate in the work force survey will receive information about the availability of technical assistance, tax credits and additional financing for the growth of their companies.

“Over the last decade, development of our transportation network has resulted in millions of dollars of new business, hundreds of jobs and an infrastructure that makes us unique in northern New England,” said Paul Badeau, marketing director for the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council. “Collectively, the area’s rail lines, turnpike access, busy municipal airport, U.S. Customs port, and Foreign Trade Zone make for attractive and powerful business attraction tools. This industry stands to benefit significantly from a modern and organized skills training program.”

“Any recovery (stimulus) money that comes to Maine will be most successful if the transportation, distribution, and logistics protocols are in place to support those projects,” said Bryant Hoffman, executive director of the Central Western Maine Workforce Investment Board, another partner in the project. “When it comes to delivering goods and services fundamental to growth, TDL is the cement that holds all the other bricks together.”

Other partnering organizations include Auburn’s Economic Development Department, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services ASPIRE Program, Central Maine Community College, Maine Department of Labor CareerCenter and Apprenticeship Programs, Lewiston Adult Education, the Downtown Education Collaborative, Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, Support Training Technical Assistance and Resources for Refugees, USM Lewiston-Auburn College, Western Maine Community Action, Empower Lewiston, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Maine Small Business Development Centers.

Transportation businesses interested in participating are urged to contact Scalzone at 207-882-7552.

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