New economic development coordinator has big plans for Limestone

LIMESTONE, Maine — Dennis McCartney is bringing years of experience as an entrepreneur in the business world to Limestone as the town’s new economic development coordinator.

Residents collectively agreed to hire McCartney during a recent town meeting, in which the Limestone Development Foundation and town each committed $10,000 for the part-time position.

McCartney recently moved up from Pennsylvania, where he owned an online business management company and worked as global procurement manager for Fairchild Semiconductor, to be closer to his son and family. In his new position, McCartney works as coordinator for both the Chamber of Commerce and Limestone Development Foundation.

“The list of things to do here is long,” McCartney said, adding that in just a few weeks he is already establishing connections with neighboring towns and actively developing a plan to bring in new businesses and improve tourism.

McCartney views a lack of jobs as one of the primary reasons previous efforts to improve the local economy have not taken hold. But he believes a recently discussed contract between the Loring Development Authority and an unidentified aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul company could open the door for new opportunities in the northern Maine town.

“I’m still busy studying the area, but I’m reaching the conclusion that jobs are the key and the LDA is the cure,” McCartney said. “If it’s perceived that LDA can be successful (with an aviation contract) we will make a concerted effort to get education started in the area.”

LDA President and CEO Carl Flora would not offer specifics about the unnamed aircraft maintenance company, but said recently that the project has “the potential to be a fairly large operation with a lot of employees.”

Flora also said potential employees would need an airframe and/or powerplant (A&P) certificate in order to get a job with the firm. In anticipation, McCartney said he already has reached out to the Northern Maine Community College and Loring Job Corps regarding new training opportunities for such positions.

“An A&P mechanic will have six assistants working under him trying to earn their A&P,” McCartney said. “The mechanics working under him are earning their time, since it takes years to be A&P certified.”

For the short-term, McCartney’s immediate goals are to get a bank in town and to improve Limestone’s appearance, initially focusing on the downtown area.

“Two things have to happen here and they both have to happen at the same time,” McCartney said. “If you want more businesses, you need people, and if you want people here, you need more businesses here.”

McCartney is confident he can accomplish these goals, attributing his business experience as a means to help him further Limestone’s development.

“I want people to know I didn’t just fall off the back of a truck,” McCartney said. “I’ve been running businesses for over 40 years; I know how to talk to other businessmen and I know how to talk to bankers. I’ve done it all my life.”

In addition to visiting neighboring towns and encouraging collaboration with neighboring towns, McCartney is putting his business management experience to use by assisting two Limestone businesses, though he did not want to name them at this time.

“I’m willing to help any business in Limestone looking to make changes for the better,” McCartney said. “I’ve only been here for two weeks and I’m already doing that with two businesses in town. I really feel optimistic that I can make a difference here.”