Friday, May 24, 2019

Business Spotlight: The Sebago Center

By Lorraine Glowczak

There are a lot of innovative and fresh ideas happening these days at Saint Joseph’s College— all with the intention of strengthening community. Diversifying the student body and becoming a 21st century exemplary learning center are key goals of the 107-year old institution. The latest transformation taking place and officially launching today, Friday May 24 is the The Sebago Center.

“The Sebago Center functions as an extension of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and is the latest expression of the college’s long-standing commitment to community, one of our seven core values,” stated Jim Dlugos, President of the College.

As stated on its website—— The Sebago Center grew from the strategic vision of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine to seek the highest and best use of its resources, core competencies, and legacy to provide new learning opportunities for a changing society, support the growth of Maine’s emerging economies, and create sustainable enterprises as models for replication and scale.

“By working with leaders in industry, education, non-profits, municipalities, federal and state government, and other cross-sector alliances, the Center is able to synthesize global and local initiatives and leverage the resources of the College to make the greatest contribution to broadly shared goals,” said Peter Nielsen, Executive Director & Entrepreneur-in-Residence.  “Together with our valued partners, we seek to apply ourselves and commit our resources to the advancement of a sustainable environmental, economic, and social ecosystem.”

Sustainability in a changing society is one of the motivating forces for establishing The Sebago Center. Nielsen explained that resilience in a transforming economy, shifting population, and changing climate is necessary to community success. One path to success is by taking advantage of the resources already available on campus. “The campus and its infrastructure will be complemented by new programming in the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation, Institute for Integrative Aging, and the Institute for Sustainable Hospitality,” Nielsen began. “By combining these efforts along with partners in the community, The Sebago Center will act as an innovation hub for a resilient Lakes Region in a changing and often unpredictable world.”

Nielsen further explained how the Center will achieve their goals by addressing the needs of an ever-changing society. The Sebago Center’s three visions to success include the following:

To create learning opportunities not only for students on campus but for life-long learners. “The opportunities for learning are not necessarily for credit. We will provide a broad scope of learning experiences that are for skill building and career development,” Nielsen stated. “For example, we are developing curriculum for hydroponic farming, senior fitness training, and aging in place home design.”

To help meet and address the needs of the state’s emerging economy by providing tools for economic development. One avenue to address and meet these needs is through the growth of an entrepreneurial hub and culture that will provide a community of support, skill development, and resources for startups in the food, hospitality, and longevity economies. By gathering people with varied skills and interests, but all with the common goal of innovation and enterprise, we will build an environment that generates new business and regional growth.

To create a more sustainable institution. It is no secret that higher education in America must evolve to meet the demands of a shifting population and economic pressures. Colleges across the nation—particularly rural colleges—must find innovative ways to heighten their social and economic impact, and the Sebago Center will be a vehicle for Saint Joseph’s to do this work.

Perhaps more importantly is how this positively affects the lives of those who have a long history of living in the Lakes Region area. Ashley O’Brion of Raymond, Senior Director of Customer Experience at The Sebago Center stated that she came on board because she valued the center’s mission and its contribution to her family’s future.

“The mission of The Sebago Center is the reason I am here,” O’Brion began. “Yes, I am here as professional in my field, but I’m also passionately motivated to be a part of The Sebago Center on a personal level. As a mother who wants her three children to grow up in a sustainable and successful community and who has a husband with roots in the Sebago Region, I want to be a part of making our community vibrant and thriving for all the families in the Lakes Region.”

For more information about the organization and its schedule of community events occurring this summer, peruse their new website at <

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