Contributors Worker cooperatives can be a boon for rural Maine’s economy

Last winter while talking with a friend, the conversation turned to the lack of employment opportunities in central Maine. A parent with an advanced degree in physics, he poignantly remarked, “For many fields, you need to be an entrepreneur in central Maine to make competitive wages.”

Those of us who have returned home to Maine after leaving for education and experience know this truth. The changing demographics of our rural Maine communities is dramatic and well-documented. We have lost key industries and seen our communities grow older and less secure as our upwardly mobile youth chase opportunities in southern Maine and beyond.

Nearly a decade ago, I permanently returned to my hometown of Pittsfield. This had little to do with the economy and a lot to do with place — my family has lived in central Maine for nine generations, and the community-centered ethic of rural Maine was something that would clearly benefit my two stepsons.

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