In 2014 representatives from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Northern Maine Community College, Husson University, the Aroostook Partnership for Progress, and the Northern Maine Development Commission partnered to establish the Aroostook Business Initiative (ABI), a project with the goal of increasing the number of individuals earning and completing business-related credentials and degrees in Aroostook County.
The core activity of the Aroostook Business Initiative has been the linking of all business programs in the County. All four higher education institutions in Aroostook County have aligned and articulated their business degrees from the point of early college in high school up through an MBA – providing a seamless transition and ease of transfer from one level to another and from one campus to another. This collaborative effort on the part of the four County institutions is focused both on student needs and on the needs of the County.
Scott Voisine, Dean of Community Education at UMFK states, “We know that a more non-traditional path to degree completion is becoming the “new normal” in higher education. Students often come in and out of programs and may attain credits at a number of institutions. The Aroostook Business Initiative makes that process easier while focusing on an important workforce sector in our communities.”
Another area of concern for the ABI group was the dwindling number of business related courses available in high schools throughout the County. To help fill that gap and in an effort to encourage high school students to consider business opportunities beyond high school, ABI is working with Northern Maine Community College to offer and promote BUS 109 – Entrepreneurship, a three credit early college course being offered through Northern Maine Community College's On Course for College program. This course will cover the essentials of how to start and operate a small business and is recommended and encouraged for all Aroostook County public high school juniors and seniors who aspire to business related degrees and careers.
“NMCC is excited about this partnership and the opportunity for students to begin taking college level business classes while still enrolled in high school,” states Dorothy Martin, NMCC's Dean of Academics, “While NMCC has been offering online classes for several years, this is the first time that a course is being offered online by NMCC for high school students. This endeavor may not have been possible without this partnership with UMFK, UMPI and Husson.”
The online course begins in the spring of 2016 for Aroostook County high school juniors and seniors. Tuition is free, but students will be responsible for a small, $30 course fee and the price of books. The course will be accepted by all four institutions for introductory business or business elective credit. Interested students should see their school guidance counselor for more information.