Thumbs Up — The Bowdoin bump

The Bowdoin College treasurer’s office last week released new data that highlights the college’s value to the Midcoast region.

Noting that the college continues to rank among Brunswick’s top 10 taxpayers and that Bowdoin is the 22nd largest private employer in Maine, the report states that Bowdoin purchased $16.3 million worth of goods and services from Maine vendors, including $2.79 million from Brunswick vendors, in 2011.

The report reinforces the fact that Bowdoin College has provided direct and indirect economic benefits to this community for more than two centuries. Bowdoin’s presence made Brunswick more than just a mill town during Maine’s manufacturing heyday in the first half of the 20th century and more than just a Navy town during Brunswick Naval Air Station’s 55-plus years.

The college’s nonprofit status disguises, to some, its importance not just to the cultural character of the Mid- coast region, but to the local economy.

As state and regional economic planners strive to take full advantage of assets “outside the gate” while working to redevelop the former Navy base, they should herald the fact that the college offers enticements that transcend standard economic development tools.

Thumbs Down — Snuffing success

Maine scored its first D ever on the American Lung Association’s annual report card on tobacco use, which was released last week.

The low mark — part of Maine’s worst report card since the ALA started its annual ratings in 2004 — relates to the state spending less than the federal recommendation for smoking-prevention measures. Expect more low grades.

If Republican lawmakers prevail in their push to cut $30 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine, it would further jeopardize past public health gains, misuse tobacco settlement funds and essentially invest state tax dollars in lung cancer and heart disease.

Thumbs Up &  Down — Rink in the new year

Seacoast United’s decision to reopen Roller World in Topsham represents a welcome development for local young people seeking a healthy outlet for their energy. Traveling to Portland, Augusta or Bangor would have posed a significant obstacle for skaters too young to drive or without the financial wherewithal to swing such a trip.

Kudos to Brunswick teen Rose Edwards, who played a lead role in orchestrating an effective, convincing, positive campaign to resurrect the rink.

With the indoor skate park in Bath in limbo and no clear indication that Brunswick will restore the outdoor skate park that disappeared to make way for Harriet Beecher Stowe School, affordable local options for young teens whose families can’t afford expensive recreational pursuits or associated travel stand out as increasingly rare community assets.

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