It’s a quick excuse…There are no jobs in Aroostook. I hear that line every week in my travels…yet I know it not to be true. Not only are there jobs in Aroostook, I literally talk to employers every single week who are searching for great employees. “Aroostook is too rural, we can’t possibly do what the big boys can down south.” Another oldie but goodie in the excuse tag lines of Aroostook. Not only can we do everything those “big boys of industry” can do, we can do it better, and I don’t just think that…I KNOW it, and Pineland Farms proves it.
Pineland Farms is a reflection of the incredible spirit in Aroostook people. When the company started, it was the concept of small, local farmers who were looking for stability in the farming industry. It launched in 1997 in the foodservice market and went retail in 1999. It was bought and sold, sold and bought. In 2010 the company returned in a way to where it began. The Libra Foundation, Bill Haggett, and Aroostook native Rodney McCrum bought the company and the rest, as they say, is history. They haven’t stopped growing. In 2014, Pineland Farms announced a 7 million dollar expansion plan for the Mars Hill plant Naturally Potatoes.
So, what’s the secret of their success? Use of local resources of course, and not just potatoes. Sure, Aroostook County is the largest potato producing County east of the Mississippi, and Pineland Farms is forecasted to purchase 80 million pounds of potatoes from local growers in 2015, but potatoes isn’t Aroostook’s only resource. The other? The people who work in that amazing plant, in their feedlot, at their farming locations, the people of Aroostook are a resource that can’t be bought or sold. That’s the kind of story we should be telling our kids at bedtime, the story of an Aroostook company experiencing success because of Aroostook people.
Aroostook, success is possible here.
Is Pineland really big business? It sure is. Pineland Farms ships products from coast-to-coast, and supplies food to national customers like Applebees, Famous Daves, Market Basket, and Publix. Since August, Pineland Farms has added a total of 40 new positions, with more anticipated openings over the next 6-12 months. The education requirements for a majority of these open jobs, now and in the future? A 2-4 year degree, attainable right here, right at AROOSTOOK’s postsecondary institutions: UMPI, UMFK, Husson University and NMCC. (Want to know more? Look for Pineland’s open positions online with opportunitiesaroostook.com.)
So, why should you care? Pineland Farms’ economic impact for Aroostook County is why. Their success means success for the state of Maine, and it shows just what hard work, tenacity, and hope can accomplish! This company has enormous growth potential, and that growth will only add to the power of agriculture in Aroostook. (Interested in learning more? Visit http://www.pinelandfarms.org.)
I bet you’re wondering why I’m crushing on this company. Why an Executive Director would be so taken with a processing plant. First, I love a story of Aroostook success. And second, Pineland Farms was AAI’s very first sustaining partner. Pineland believes in the mission of AAI, in our work to help reverse outward migration. They believed in it so much, they’ve made a major investment in that very mission, in AAI, and in the dreams and goals of Aroostook students.
Folks, we have to tout the successes of our local businesses, of our Aroostook County business leaders, of our schools and our clubs—we have to BRAG THEM UP . Our kids see and hear so much negative….we have to give them some sunshine to counter the rain! Our kids need to hear just as many stories of Aroostook success as they do failure. Real, honest to goodness success is possible in Aroostook. Pineland Farms is a perfect example.
I love the County, and I know you do too, it’s why you’re reading this blog. Let’s make sure our kids know that happily every after CAN happen in Aroostook. When our kids ask about Aroostook companies? Tell them about Pineland Farms. (Or maybe have them watch AAI’s WAGM-TV’s Monday morning segment on Pineland.) We need to encourage our Aroostook students to DREAM IT–BELIEVE IT–ACHIEVE IT.
Help us change some lives, we do it every day.
You can help Aroostook’s college dreams become degree realities! You can help more businesses experience the success Pineland Farms emulates, you can help our kids see the opportunities before them in Aroostook, and most importantly, you CAN help us reverse outward migration. Let’s help Aroostook grow, together! Visit www.gauvinfund.org/donate and be a part of our May 2015 celebration.
How many Gauvin Scholars will we award in May? Stay tuned!
Just a quick note: You won’t want to miss the Easter Sunday showing of Lakefront Bargin Hunt on HGTV. This is a big deal for Aroostook…a great way to show off the very best we have to offer! Learn more by clicking here.