This is a letter to American Aquafarms CEO Keith Decker.
Good morning, Mr. Decker.
My name is Becky Okeefe and I am a resident of Prospect Harbor, Gouldsboro. I moved here in 1976, married, built a house and raised our two sons here. I have sat on the Solid Waste Committee for over 35 years, coached cross-country and track in the local schools for over 14 years, my husband is a lobster fisherman as well, so I am very closely connected with the people who call Gouldsboro home.
My question is about jobs. From the moment I heard about this project, I thought it ill-advised. Hadn’t we learned anything from the failure of MFT? There was a time when women stood at tables across from each other, their hands cutting and packing sardines at a rate comparable to a machine. They took pride in their work and skill. Stinson factory closed and with it an era. The people of Downeast Maine are independent, self-driven and above all capable of a hard day’s work. But they value sovereignty over their time as number one. Being the mother of two young men in their late 30s, I have watched this generation reject working “for others.” They are inclined to start up their own businesses. They are savvy entrepreneurs with a good handle on social media. They are not going to work in a factory. When MFT brought in workers from outside, workers whose culture was very different than that of Downeast Maine, it was a disaster. We do not have the infrastructure, public transportation or support that is available in a larger town or city.
My questions to you:
- Where do you think the workforce for your project is going to come from?
- Do you really think the jobs you are creating are ones our young people want?
- If you and your family lived in Prospect Harbor, would you be happy to see a huge factory rebuilt there, with 24/7 noise and lights, more truck traffic than ever experienced passing by your home on the very narrow roads every day?
- Is this your idea of improvements on what we now have?
This project is about to change our lives forever, not for the better.
Please take time to actually visualize what I am asking you. I have no desire to have this “conversation” if the answers are simply talking points.