Highlights Fiscal Year 2018 (July 2017-June 2018)
NEW! State Rural Development Council Designation: GrowSmart Maine is pursuing this designation from the USDA: Rural Development with support from Maine’s State Director for USDA: Rural Development, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King, and Partners for Rural America, the national convener of state rural development councils. This will allow us to take a more prominent role in rural economic development.
Maine Alliance for Smart Growth (MASG) GrowSmart Maine leads this network connecting Mainers with each other, resources and expertise; coordinating community engagement while maximizing collaboration and minimizing redundancy, and jointly advocating on issues of statewide impact. MASG hosted an advocacy workshop and another entitled “Rising Water: Adapting Maine Communities.”
Events: We convene people to discuss familiar challenges and explore proven solutions.
The 2017 Summit was hosted in downtown Westbrook. Five sessions throughout the downtown featured Westbrook’s response to the Summit theme, “First, Build a Bridge,” whether cultural, food-based, or between fisheries and industry. Featured speakers John Robert Smith of Smart Growth America and Jonathan Arnold of Arnold Development Group brought in national perspectives. The evaluation survey revealed that attendees were ready for action, with 93% ‘likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to discuss Summit content with colleagues, 87% planning to follow up with a new contact made at the Summit, 65% planning to access a tool or resource gained at the Summit, 69% planning to use information gained to influence a workplace decision, 96% planning to attend another GrowSmart Maine event and would recommend GSM to others.
GrowSmart Maine hosted eight forums from Bangor to Kennebunk, Belfast to Windham. Topics included housing choices Midcoast community divides, commercial corridor redevelopment, walkability, and farm-friendly communities.
Advocacy: We advocate to remove barriers and provide resources for community action and impacts.
- Development rules in the unorganized territories: The Land Use Planning Commission, which serves as the Planning Board for Maine’s unorganized towns, is updating land use rules related to adjacency and location of development, and subdivision rules, or how the development can be laid out on the land. GrowSmart Maine is recommending a cautious approach, given the potential impact on the largest area of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi and particularly on nearby small towns.
- Broadband, Solar, Bonds: We focused on these three issues in the State Legislature. LD 1686, “An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Distributed Energy Generation and To Eliminate Gross Metering” was a tightly focused bill offering changes necessary for Mainers to invest in solar energy generation – and yet it failed final passage in the House. We supported additional initiatives with the Maine Broadband Coalition, but with very little meaningful outcome. We also supported multiple bonds for investments in transportation and water infrastructure, downtowns, economic development, and broadband. At the end of the session, a balanced package of bonds was approved that will go to voters this November.
- Federal focus: GrowSmart Maine traveled to DC to advocate for continued federal investments essential to community and economic revitalization. These include Community Development Block Grants, Brownfield Restoration funds, and federal tax credits to encourage reuse of historic buildings and creation of affordable housing.
Community Engagement: We bring resources and expertise and facilitate local action.
- Making Headway in Your Community: Making Headway in the Katahdin Region concluded with a Community Celebration on the banks of the Penobscot River in August 2017. Making Headway in Sanford has begun, supporting the city’s Lafayette School redevelopment strategy. Making Headway in Sanford will connect residents of this neighborhood with the city’s major Initiatives in solar, broadband and workforce training as they determine how the retired school building will serve the city.
- GrowSmart is active in the Kennebec West Regional Farm Support Working Group: Volunteers representing Monmouth, Winthrop and Manchester are developing municipal strategies to support farming. In Monmouth, voters approved the Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program through which eligible farms can receive a property tax refund on land and structures. Each town completed a farm inventory or farmer survey to prioritize additional efforts.
- Climate messaging and energy efficiency: GrowSmart Maine works within The Maine Climate Table to increase uptake of Energy Efficiency measures statewide and across all sectors. In addition, we led a series of Maine Climate Table’s ‘Communicating with Mainers on Climate Change’ workshops, sharing Maine-based research on climate change impacts in Maine on farming, marine and coastal sectors, as well as the economic value of clean energy and the need for energy efficiency,
FISCAL YEAR 2018 REVENUE AND EXPENSES
See Board of Directors here.
Thank you to our business and individual members, foundations and partners for your ongoing support.