GEGEC Winter Newsletter

GEGEC Winter 2024
GEGEC Winter 2024

Greetings to all our neighbors in the Greater East Grand Region — We are pleased to bring you this update from the Greater East Grand Economic Council (GEGEC) as 2024 gets underway in our communities. But first, some background about the purpose of the organization and what its aspirations are for the region’s future.

GEGEC was founded as a local non-profit in 2021 after a two year economic planning project supported by local citizens. The geography and name of the region was citizen-designated and determined by history, natural resources, and the local economic, education, health care, and community activity surrounding Danforth.

The council’s purpose is to help advance the economic well-being of the people living in the region by providing economic development assistance to twelve widely distributed communities, situated in an underserved and remote area of Eastern Maine. The communities are Amity, Orient, Weston, Bancroft, Haynesville, Glenwood Plantation, Reed Plantation, Drew Plantation, Brookton, Forest, Forest City and Danforth.

Most importantly, we believe that engaged residents inspired by a collaborative and coordinated economic development plan can turn the regional assets into opportunities. Projects led by committed organizations and individuals are demonstrating that this belief holds true.

Thank you for all you do to help the Greater East Grand Region become an economically stable, well-served, and welcoming group of communities that work together to attract and retain people of all ages to live, work, visit and play.

The Regional Broadband Network Construction will begin in early spring 2024. Consolidated Communications (Fidium) and the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) signed their agreement in December to release $8.1 million in state funding to build the network. By this time next year, at the latest, residents and businesses across the region will have a high-speed fiber broadband service available.

Winter Tourism – It is too early to know but if last year was any indication winter tourism via snowmobile enthusiasts will continue to grow in the region. The volunteer snowmobile clubs are to be thanked for bringing new winter activity to local businesses. Everyone looks forward to it continuing.

Downtown Danforth continues to move its revitalization projects forward with new grants for an expanded library, the pavilion building, fish passage, and land use planning.

East Grand School’s Campus Additions The Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) program is in its second year and continues to offer apprenticeships, work experiences and career planning activities to middle and high school students – helping to unleash their aspirations and build the region’s future workforce. Early in 2024, the new office for the ELO & Career Prep programs opens on campus. GEGEC is excited to have its new office in the building to better serve the region. 

Did You Say High-Speed Broadband?

Broadband partner logos

Broadband partner logosIn January 2023 we learned that Consolidated Communications (Fidium) $8.1 million proposal to build a high speed fiber broadband network in the Greater East Grand region was approved by the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA). The local volunteer task force led by the economic council recommended this solution to the communities and received unanimous support. The question on everyone’s mind since then has been “so when will that broadband project actually begin?”

As of January 2024, the final agreement between MCA, Consolidated and the GEGEC is complete. On the ground, pre-engineering work has already begun. The final engineering work and building design will be completed this winter. Actual infrastructure buildout will begin in March or April 2024 – once the snow clears. As a preview of what is to come next summer, please explore this website – – and learn more about the services coming to the region. In the meantime, you can send questions about the broadband project to Sarah Strickland at She continues to serve as our project advisor to ensure continuity until the project is completed in 2024.

Washington County Region Takes Steps to Safeguard its Future

Aerial view of Danforth. Photo courtesy the Town of Danforth.

From The Maine Monitor, December 16, 2023

With a new executive director, the Greater East Grand Region is working to generate economic activity. High-speed broadband is one early strategy.

As paper mills folded and other jobs in forestry were cut, opportunities and necessary services for the East Grand area’s roughly 2,000 year-round residents in the northern corner of Washington County and nearby Penobscot and Aroostook counties have mostly evaporated.

Faced with this stark reality, community leaders, deciding there might be strength in numbers, began working together to find solutions under the auspices of the citizen-designated Greater East Grand Region. In 2021, their vision took the form of a non-governmental organization, becoming the Greater East Grand Economic Council (GEGEC), created to boost the region’s prosperity.

At the top of the list is maintaining what they have left — only one of everything. One farm. One gas station. One restaurant. One health clinic. One hardware store. One retail grocery store. One bank…

Welcome Christopher!

Christopher Hinshaw, Executive Director of GEGEC

Christopher Hinshaw, Executive Director of GEGECChristopher Hinshaw, a Vanceboro resident, is the new permanent director for the Greater East Grand Economic Council. Since his first day on the job in September, Chris has been on the road meeting with people across the region to listen to their concerns, hopes and aspirations for their community. His concerns about remote rural sustainability, poverty’s impact on children and families, and community resilience, led him to explore this job opportunity and say “yes” to the board’s offer to lead the organization forward.

Chris and his wife, Alaine, started their Vanceboro homestead in 2016 after Alaine’s father’s property passed on to her. Chris and Alaine have lived throughout the US and Central American in both urban and rural communities.

Chris is an educator with thirty years teaching experience in American history, government, politics, global studies and educational administration including being head of school/principal of 2 schools. Earlier in his career he worked for two community development organizations, one in rural Kansas and the other in Commerce City, Colorado. His past fundraising and strategic planning experience will be very beneficial for the GEGEC and the region.

Hiring Chris as director is an important next phase for the region and the economic council. In order to achieve this milestone, the council secured three years of operations funding from two foundations based on the demonstrated accomplishments and commitment by volunteers, town leaders, local organizations, and the council over the past ten years. We are grateful to CF Adams Charitable Trust, and Elmina B. Sewall Foundation for their confidence in our collective ability to move the region’s priorities forward under Chris’ leadership.

Please reach out to Chris at