GrowSmart Maine Testifies in Support of LDs 178, 319, 955 & 1118, for State Funding of Programs that Strengthen Maine’s Communities & Economy

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in support of LDs 178, 319, 955 and 1118.

January 9, 2018

Senator Hamper, Representative Gattine and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine.

We are a statewide non-partisan, non-profit, membership-based organization working to create lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine. This testimony is one component of our support for a balanced package of strategic investments in Maine’s communities, infrastructure, natural resources and economic capacity.

The LD’s listed in the subject line of this testimony advocate for state funding of a variety of programs that strengthen Maine’s communities and economy. Infrastructure improvements are needed across the state, as are targeted investment in sustainable economic development.

We support each of these bills, because the various programs have value. However, we would draw the committee’s attention to the Community for Maine’s Future (CMF) Fund at DECD. Two additional bills related to that program are relevant to today’s hearings;

  • Sen. Justin Chenette sponsored LD 1343, carried over to this session. This bill does not include a funding mechanism but would add to the CMF program “The Locating Businesses Downtown Loan Program” to provide forgivable loans for businesses seeking to initially locate or to relocate in a downtown area, village area or along a main street within the State.
  • Rep Dick Campbell sponsored a bond bill this session, not yet printed. LR 2763 would recapitalize another component of the Communities for Maine’s Future Program, the Historic Preservation Revolving Fund to allow for the purchase, conservation, and resale of historic buildings.

It is my understanding that the sponsors of LD 1343 and LD 319 have been in conversation regarding the potential of both bills and of the programs they support.  In considering how best to invest in communities for economic impact, I’ll point out that CMF is available to more communities as stated in the enabling language: The department shall administer the program to provide funding for the rehabilitation, revitalization and enhancement of downtowns and village centers and main streets in the State.

In closing, I would stress that it is appropriate to target some of what is likely very limited bond funding to community investments outlined in these bills. We at GrowSmart Maine will assist in any way that is helpful.