When the head of the National Endowment of the Arts visited Rockland, Maine last week, he probably didn't expect to hear about energy efficiency contracting. But in the story of Rockland's renaissance, art and the economy are intertwined, and Evergreen Home Performance has one of the staring roles.
Rocco Landesman was in town as the guest of Representative Chellie Pingree, who invited the NEA Chairman to explore the success of Maine’s creative economy. Several Rockland-area arts organizations told their stories, including Maine Media Workshops + College president Meg Weston.
Weston recounted her own history as a MMW student in the 1970s, and shared the Workshops’ sometimes-surprising economic impact: The president of the Pen Bay Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year - Evergreen Home Performance - originally came to Midcoast Maine to attend a one-year program in photography at Maine Media Workshops. “The beauty of the coast drew me here,” said Richard Riegel Burbank, “but the Workshops provided the spark.”
That spark kept Burbank coming back to the Midcoast, even after a stint in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu. Six years ago, the Rockland, Maine resident became one of the first Building Analysts certified by the Building Performance Institute in Maine, and founded Evergreen Home Performance in downtown Rockland. Today, Evergreen is an energy efficiency audits and contracting company with a staff of 24 and a record of cutting home energy costs by an average of 25-50%. Weston applauded Evergreen for employing photographers, graphic designers, and writers, as well as its core staff of BPI-certified energy analysts and contractors.
Landesman was impressed with how well Maine in general and Rockland in particular understand the connection between art and the economy. “Rockland is really the poster child for the NEA in how the arts can be used to revitalize neighborhoods,” he said.