On June 25th the GrowSmart Board and Staff convened at the North Dam Mill in the Pepperell Mill Campus for the Annual GrowSmart Maine Board Retreat. Hosted by Board Member and Developer of the Pepperell Mill Campus, Doug Sanford, the day began with reflecting on GSM's work over the past year and plans on the upcoming.
The countless hours of planning a new three-year Strategic Plan came to fruition when the Board voted to approve the plan. We also welcomed our newest member of the Board, Ethan Boxer-Macomber of Anew Real Property Development. Welcome, Ethan!
Executive Director Nancy Smith gave an impressive “lightning round” legislative update on our year-to-date advocacy work, followed by an update on our flagship initiative with the Maine Downtown Center, Making Headway in Your Community.
After the meeting adjourned, Doug brought the group on an exciting tour of the Pepperell Mill Campus. We learned there is no stronger example of early industrialism than the development of the textile mills in New England. It started in Biddeford due to the presence of the Saco River and the power that it provided to the mills. The early builders of the now Pepperell Mill Campus constructed hand dug canals and subterranean aqueducts to spin submerged water wheels. The river was the source of power that brought the mills to Biddeford.
After learning about the history of the industry and the effects on the surrounding cities and towns, we learned about the businesses and people working and living in the Pepperell Mill Campus. From outdoor gear and equipment manufacturing, to a modern-day dye house, to a college of art, the Pepperell Mill Campus is growing every day with over 100 businesses now operating. Walking through the halls you can feel the spirit of entrepreneurship and the innovation happening all around you.
We ended our tour by joining the community celebration of the newest apartments on Campus – the riverfront lofts.
A giant thank you to the Pepperell Mill Campus for hosting our Board Retreat and for a fascinating tour. We highly recommend you take a day trip to Biddeford and experience this unparalleled smart growth development for yourself!