Northern Maine Community College and Maine Community Foundation are partnering to bring Somali immigrants to Aroostook County to explore agricultural opportunities.
Officials from the college and foundation were joined Saturday by 45 Somali immigrants, including children, from southern Maine on a tour of farm operations in Aroostook County held on Saturday.
The purpose of the tour is to introduce the Somalis to smaller-scale agricultural prospects in the region.
This effort stems from ideas germinated at a March 2016 conference at the college in which local business and civic leaders spoke about being more proactive in the face of a continuing decline in Aroostook County’s work force.
Maine’s aging workforce is retiring faster than younger workers can replace them, economists have said. Also, Aroostook County has faced significant out-migration since the early 1990s.
NMCC President Tim Crowley said the region is working on ways to welcome anyone who wants to work hard and find a home in Aroostook County, including migrant workers, immigrants, college students from abroad and transplants from other parts of the United States.