2015 Award Winners

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Norbert X. Dowd Award - John Simpson

John Simpson had an easy choice when retiring as the CEO of H.E. Sargent Co. in 2005. After a successful 40-year career, he could pursue his love of golf, embrace the snowbird lifestyle and kick back. Thankfully, John didn’t make the easy choice. Instead, he leaned into his community, volunteering in key roles to make a huge difference. When the region’s economic development stakeholders gathered to chart a new path that would eventually become the region’s much-talked-about resurgence, Simpson was there with tough advice about what it would take to bring change. In nearly a decade since retirement, he has brought his talents and dedication to numerous community organizations, including the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Maine Health Systems, the United Way of Eastern Maine and many others. The Bangor Region is fortunate to have him.



Business of the Year: RH Foster Energy



R.H. Foster had humble beginnings and has an innovative future in front of it. In 1959 Robert H. Foster started Foster Fuels as a Gulf Oil Dealership with one 1500-gallon oil delivery truck. Sales volume that first year was 200,000 gallons of home heating oil. Today, the company has over 350 employees and does business all over Maine, from Madawaska to Cape Elizabeth. R.H. Foster Energy, LLC has four Energy Services locations—Machias, Jackman, Ellsworth, and Hampden. The company owns 24 Foster’s and Mobil On The Run locations with 13 of those stores offering Freshies® food. The company also operates a wholesale transportation unit, supplying approximately 75-80 dealers with gasoline, distillates and propane. Much of its success is owed to innovation that serves as an example to others and makes it a worthy “Business of the Year.”



Catherine Lebowitz Award for Public Service: Ben Sprague & Jerry Goss



Two communities, linked by three bridges, but separated still by a river, sometimes can lose track of the fact that their fates are inextricably linked. After all, the line between healthy rivalry and partnership can sometimes be hard to walk. In 2014, that was not the case for Ben Sprague, mayor of Bangor, and Jerry Goss, mayor of Brewer. The two mayors communicated often and cooperated on tough regional issues like the scourge of opiate abuse. The cooperation extends now to Brewer’s formal support of Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center and things like joint purchasing of road salt. Through their work, Sprague and Goss have made clear we in the Bangor Region are stronger when we work together.


M. Jane Irving Community Service Award: Mark Woodward




Mark Woodward likes to call himself a “recovering newspaper editor,” but a more apt title is, “Man dedicated to a better Bangor.” Mark retired from the Bangor Daily News as its executive editor after 39 years at the paper – with a brief hiatus to work for Sen. Susan Collins. Upon retirement, he threw himself into nonprofit and advocacy work on behalf of his community. He was instrumental in the campaign to win approval for the new arena complex that is now the Cross Insurance Center. Today, Eastern Maine Development Corp., the Maine Discovery Museum, the Bangor Mechanic Association, the Bangor Public Library, Penobscot Community Health Care, the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame, the Maine Winter Sports Center, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Bangor Savings Bank and the Philips-Strickland House all benefit from his involvement. Now that’s community service!



Non-Profit of the Year:
Foster Center for Student Innovation at the University of Maine




The Center gives students the knowledge, tools and inspiration to become innovators and entrepreneurs.  Its groundbreaking Innovation Engineering curriculum was developed to teach students a systematic approach to creating and implementing meaningfully unique innovations and has been adopted by colleges and universities around the country.  In addition, the Center has helped to train more than 1000 Maine business leaders in making their organizations more successful with innovation.  The Center also provides coaching and business incubation space to student entrepreneurs who are launching companies and non-profits while in school and partners with several statewide and Bangor-area entities to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the region.



Arthur Comstock Professional Service Award: Dennis Marble



It would be easy for Dennis Marble to get lost in the challenges of the people he serves and lose sight of the bigger picture. The plight of homelessness at the micro level is so intense, the macro gets easily lost. But as a community leader, Marble has recognized that the health of the Region and how it deals with a multitude of challenges are directly related to the people he works with every day. A Massachusetts native who attended Colby College and the University of Maine, Marble is at the center of important conversations about substance abuse, health care and economic development in his community. Through his professional role, this former director of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce defines service to others broadly and effectively.



Bion and Dorain Foster Entrepreneurship Award: C&L Aviation Group



What kind of entrepreneurs do we want in the Bangor Region? C&L Aviation Group and its founder, Chris Kilgour, provide a ready answer to the question.  Kilgour opened his business at Bangor International Airport in 2010 with 20 employees. Today the company has more than 140. These are good-paying jobs dedicated to help customers maintain and repair their aircraft. By marrying high-quality work with innovative customer service models – C&L has a “power by the hour” contract option allowing operators to pay a maintenance fee based on each hour of operation – the company has emerged as a model for entrepreneurs in the Bangor Region.