This week, a group of Maine's legislative leaders toured Aroostook County businesses and schools to discuss the importance of growing good jobs and higher wages in Northern Maine.

The delegation, lead by House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick) and House Majority Whip Sara Gideon (D-Freeport), included a bipartisan group of local legislators, community leaders, and employers from across the region.

“This jobs tour by Speaker Eves and House and Senate leaders is a great opportunity to showcase the County,” said Rep. Danny Martin of Sinclair and former Aroostook county administrator. “I don't recall the last time that the entire House Majority Leadership toured the County to speak to employers and workers.”

Aroostook County has been hit hard by the recession, recovering at a slower pace than much of the state with a 7 percent unemployment rate.

The tour started with a visit to Louisiana Pacific in New Limerick on Wednesday, where lawmakers had the opportunity to talk directly with workers about the importance of maintaining a strong job base for the middle class, as well as improving wages for working families.

The tour continued on Thursday and Friday with visits to the St. John Valley Technology Center in Frenchville and Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, where they visited students and educators in the precision metal machining, forestry, and wind tech programs. The speaker also visited the biomass lab on campus.

“Maine’s comeback story depends on growing good jobs and strong wages for the middle class all across the state,” said Eves, who launched the tour last month and proposed a $5 million initiative to foster workforce development statewide. “The goal of the jobs tour is to talk to employers and workers about how to best to grow good- paying jobs, including the best ways to invest in workforce training and to grow public-private partnerships.”

Legislative Leaders tour Louisiana Pacific in New Limerick. Photo via @JodiQuintero on Twitter.