Maine island hopes to expand its population

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May 29, 2013, 7:47 pm
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(NECN: Marnie MacLean, Au Haut, Maine) - Just getting to Isle Au Haut takes commitment.  The morning mail boat leaves at 7 from Stonington. Forty minutes later you arrive at the dock and start lugging.

Isle Au Haut is one of just 10 Maine islands with year round communities; 40 people call this one their home.

The Isle Au Haut building development corporation exists to grow the island's population.  The effort got a big boost when the state set aside two million dollars for Maine's island communities to build new housing.

Isle Au Haut got $350,000 of that money and two new houses are nearly complete.

Tracy Batteese and his wife Julie will soon be moving into one of them.  The couple has given up life on the mainland to be caretakers at the island's inn.

"Well, there's a house available, going to be brand new... why not, we're ready for a change," Julie said.

The couple will rent the house for $600 a month--a way to test drive the island before deciding if they want to be neighbors with Bill Calvert

"I think it's a good place,” said Calvert, an island resident.

Providing housing is one way to entice new residents.  The other is to change the perception that living on an island means you have to give up your gadgets.

"We have all the technology you need out here to be able to work from here and build a business from here," Calvert said. Calvert is a financial planner. His clients don't care where his office is, but Bill does and he wants it as close to his boat as possible.

Steve and Kate Shaffer employ 14 people with their business, Black Dinah Chocolatiers. The island provides unique branding and the ingredients they need to compete.

"We could not have the business if the island didn't have high speed internet access," Kate said.

The pitch has changed.  No longer, get away from it all, but have it all. The one room schoolhouse, a tight knit community and the ability to stay connected to the larger world.

Tags: maine, Isle au Haut, business , Marnie McLean, Island living
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