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State’s new business-friendly certification gets mixed reviews

September 16

State’s new business-friendly certification gets mixed reviews

The LePage administration’s business-friendly certification eludes 10 of the 24 communities that applied in the first two rounds.

By Kelley Bouchard
Staff Writer

Others say the certification program’s focus on being business-friendly ignores other critical aspects of successful economic development.

In addition to having sensible regulations, communities must take steps to preserve precious resources, such as historic downtowns and open spaces, said Nancy Smith, executive director of GrowSmart Maine, a nonprofit that promotes economic growth, resource protection and community revitalization.

Municipalities also must have policies that encourage innovation to ensure economic vitality in a global marketplace and that forge partnerships among government agencies, nonprofits and private companies, Smith said.

“The (LePage) administration has recognized a piece of what’s needed to promote economic development,” Smith said. “I hope for each of these communities, being business-friendly is just one piece of an effective economic development program.”  Read more…

Polls show Mainers are pessimists in paradise

AUGUSTA, Maine — Compared with other Americans, Mainers envision a bleak future for their state. Yet, others give Maine high marks as an idyllic place to live.

Are we a bunch of grumps living in what others consider paradise?

In Gallup polling based on more than 530,000 interviews conducted between Jan. 2, 2011, and June 30 of this year, Maine registered the highest percentage of residents who believe that their standard of living will worsen during the next five years. Conversely, people who live in Hawaii have the brightest outlook on where they’ll be five years from now. Maybe it’s the weather.

“Mainers are cautious and humble,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of GrowSmart Maine, a Portland-based organization that plans to release an update of its 2006 “Charting Maine’s Future” report this fall. “We simply don’t tout our own successes; that would be rude. We don’t want to offend others or appear to be bragging. There’s also a bit of not wanting to jinx our good fortune.”  Read more…

Portland at forefront of decline in car ownership

Portland Press Herald, July 26, 2012 By Tom Bell

"You are seeing two trends: One of necessity and one of choice," said Nancy Smith, executive director of GrowSmart Maine, an anti-sprawl advocacy group based in Portland.  Read more…

ReEnvisioning the Highway Strip: June Project Update

Re-Envisioning the Highway Strip is gearing up for two additional mini-design charrettes, building on the Reny’s Plaza charrette in Belfast last fall.  The project continues to explore finding the “sweet spot” between best design and transportation-land use practices, on the one hand, and market acceptance by commercial property owners and tenants on the other.  After…

Lawmakers considering bond proposals

AUGUSTA — After taking a break last year from endorsing state borrowing for public projects, Maine lawmakers on Thursday began considering a list of more than two-dozen bond issue proposals totaling nearly $600 million…The nonprofit GrowSmart Maine testified Thursday in favor of four of the bills before the committee Thursday, saying the state would benefit from the strategic use of bonding for economic development, research, infrastructure improvements and conservation.  Read more…

LURC arguments return to Legislature

AUGUSTA — The highly charged debate over how to manage 10 million acres in Maine's unorganized territories returned to the State House on Thursday, with supporters of a reform bill wanting more local control and opponents worrying about unfettered development…And Nancy Smith, executive director of GrowSmart Maine, said she supports much of the bill but the opt-out provision is unnecessary.

"With county representatives to comprise six of nine seats, there is no need to provide an exit strategy from a structure in which counties will hold majority representation," she said.  Read more…

Maine’s only independent senator wants to reinvent government

AUGUSTA, Maine — Changing government is far from easy. Every so often, a well-respected, often bipartisan or nonpartisan group gets together to outline a vision for Maine and to set goals for achieving that vision. Sometimes certain details of those voluminous reports get parsed out and lead to meaningful change. More often, though, the reports sit in a drawer. Sen. Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth, the only independent state senator in Maine, wants to take the best of those reports and create an all-star commission to turn them into a plan of action.  Read more…

Women play key role in Washington County growth, development

MACHIAS, Maine — There is no disputing the important role that women play in directing the future of Washington County — from holding top county positions to arranging public suppers when a neighbor is in need. During a tour of Washington County last summer, the director of GrowSmart Maine, Nancy Smith, expressed her admiration that women were so prominently fostering the county’s direction.  Read more…

Final LURC proposal finds common ground, concern

AUGUSTA – When the LURC Reform Commission was established last spring by the Maine Legislature, few expected an outcome that satisfied extreme and diverse views of Mainers toward land use planning in Maine’s unorganized territories. The LURC Reform Commission’s final report, made public this week, was unanimous, containing an advisory report and set of recommendations that reforms the 40-year-old Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) statutes. For the most part, most Mainers feel that the plan struck a balance between local control over resources and protection of the environment.  Read more…

GrowSmart Maine Previews Charting Maine’s Future 2020 at Annual Meeting

WATERVILLE – GrowSmart Maine hosted an informative and dynamic Annual Meeting at the Hathaway Creative Center in Waterville on November 16th. The statewide non-profit, non-partisan organization offered a look back at the past year’s activity and a preview to Charting Maine’s Future 2020, a renewal of Charting Maine’s Future, the 2006 report that proved to be the strategic plan for improving Maine’s economy while protecting and enhancing places that make Maine special to each of us. Read more…