MEXICO – If the town can prove that 51 percent of its
population are in the low- to moderate-income bracket, chances are the River
Valley Technology Center could be restructured as a community service
facility.

Town Manager John Madigan said the survey will likely be mailed
from the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments within the next week or so.
And the results are critical, he said.

The town will supply AVCOG with
the names of all households, then AVCOG will mail out 350 to 400 random surveys.
All information gathered is confidential.

The town accepted a $400,000
Community Development Block Grant a few years ago to be used to help establish a
technology center for the River Valley area. A contingency of the grant was the
creation of 40 jobs in the technological trades for low- to moderate-income
people.

Although Madigan said at least that many jobs have been created
over the years at the site, most have not met the federal criteria.

“The
technology center has since evolved into a community service facility, and it
may be possible to change the whole strategy for job creation,” he
said.

Currently, Community Dental and the Maine CareerCenter, along with
several smaller social service agencies, are housed at the Rumford technology
center.

Madigan also believes the change is possible because the state
stopped funding all but two of the state’s similar technology centers two years
ago. Originally, the River Valley Technology Center was organized to become a
business incubator for metal trades businesses.

If the survey shows 51
percent low- and moderate-income residents living in the town, Madigan said the
CDBG grant would be closed out, and the town would again be eligible to apply
for future federal grants.

He said the town’s low- and moderate-income
level population was 49 percent in 2000.

The town should know by August
whether it meets the 51 percent income criteria.


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