AUGUSTA — Lawmakers this week will visit several central Maine destinations — including Madison Paper, Thomas College and the New Balance shoe factory in Skowhegan — as part of a tour sponsored by the Maine Development Foundation.

The annual tour is designed to give lawmakers, particularly those new to the Legislature, a chance to bond with each other and to learn about the Maine economy, said Ed Cervone, president of the foundation.

While tours in the past have focused on either northern or southern Maine, the group decided to focus on interior and western Maine this year.

“It’s a part of Maine we normally don’t do, but there’s a lot going on,” he said. “It gives them a better context for what they are trying to do.”

About 75 legislators boarded two buses Wednesday morning for the three-day tour. The first stop is the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway in Bangor, followed by the University of Maine in Orono. After an overnight in Bangor, the group is scheduled to head to Madison Paper, the Bingham Area Health Center, Poland Spring Bottling Co., and Thomas College in Waterville.

On Friday, the tour continues at the New Balance plants in Norridgewock and Skowhegan, the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan, Good Will-Hinckley and back to the State House. The trip is funded by the Maine Community Foundation and the Maine Health Access Foundation.

Just minutes before the buses pulled away Wednesday, Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, said she wants to get a good look at what’s happening in central Maine.

“It allows us to look forward about our economy instead of getting mired in red ink,” she said.

Susan Cover — 621-5643
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