Central Maine is rich with opportunity and natural resources.  We take a look at what business owners and policy makers can do to ensure a strong economy. Kennebec Journal business reporter Jessica Lowell will lead a conversation with members of the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Maine Development Foundation and the City of Augusta’s Developmental Services department to get advice and insight.

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. with coffee and networking until 8:00 a.m. when program begins. Program ends at 9 a.m.

The Michael Klahr and Holocaust and Human Rights Center is at 46 University Drive, Augusta. Parking on-site is free.

About the moderator:

Jessica Lowell covers business and economic development and general news in the Gardiner area. A University of Maine graduate, she has worked for newspapers in New Hampshire, upstate New York and Wyoming, where she has won awards for investigative and explanatory journalism. She’s a fellow of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources.

About the panelists:

Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the State Department of Economic and Community Development 

Commissioner Heather Johnson grew up in Skowhegan and graduated from the University of Maine. She began her career in the private technology sector including sales, operations and general management roles at Nokia, Gateway and Toshiba. With continually expanding roles she created startup operations inside large companies, developed new products for new markets, and ran a $1.2 billion retail business.

After leaving the private sector, she returned to Maine to concentrate on rural economic development as the Executive Director at Somerset Economic Development Corporation and then as the Director of ConnectME.

As Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development Heather continues to dedicate her career to fostering economic development, both in private companies and in rural communities across Maine.

Yellow Light Breen, Executive Director of the Maine Development Foundation

Yellow’s passion is promoting economic and educational opportunity for all Mainers regardless of geography or background. He became CEO in August 2015, where he develops strategic direction, integration, and partnerships across MDF’s mission and programs. Yellow spent 12 years as an executive with Bangor Savings Bank, overseeing strategic planning, marketing, online banking, community development, and charitable activities. Prior, he was a senior official at the Maine Department of Education and an advisor to Independent Governor Angus King.

Yellow was born and raised in rural, central Maine, a product of Maine public schools, and earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. He has been an active volunteer in many education and economic development efforts, including the boards of the Maine Community Foundation and Educate Maine. He previously served on the MDF Board and chaired Realize Maine, an ongoing initiative to attract, retain, and support young professionals. Yellow lives in Holden and loves to hike, swim, and ski with his wife and children.

Keith Luke, Deputy Director of Development Services with the City of Augusta

Keith Luke has served as Augusta’s Deputy Director of Development Services for six years. Chief among his responsibilities is managing the city’s economic development program. Over the past twenty years, Keith served in similar capacities in Westbrook, Windham and Topsham. He has is currently one of the city’s longest tenured downtown residents.

 

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