The Maine Community College System has unveiled a $6.2 million program designed to expand its reach into rural Maine.

The new program will enable the state’s seven community colleges to provide greater access to college courses for high school students, create scholarships, assist college students with child care, and expand distance learning opportunities and work force training assistance to small business in the rural regions.

“I think it is a wonderful beginning in realizing the true potential of rural Maine,” Gov. John Baldacci said of the program.

John Fitzsimmons, president of the community college system, announced the program at the Burton M. Cross Office Building at the state capital on Wednesday with Baldacci, other officials and the presidents of six of the state’s seven community colleges at his side. Fitzsimmons credited grants and donations from the private sector with making the program possible. No state funds will be required to implement the initiative.

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