Effective economic development

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Effective economic development

Post by Phil Blampied on Sat Oct 11, 2008 8:24 pm

Jennifer has presented, on the Rumford Reporter, a model for economic development. I think it's wrong, and I think that it's been, in following that model, that communities have failed to achieve economic development. I want to explain exactly how and why that model is wrong and will try to do so here.

I post here with reluctance because I feel that many here have an obsessive opposition to Jennifer and what she does, an opposition which both exaggerates her impact and carries criticism of her point of view to a unnecessarily personal and insulting level. The fact that most of the posters are anonymous is something I think you should be ashamed of. Post anonymously about a problem with streetlights. If you engage in character assasination, however, have the decency to use your real name.

However, just as the National Enquirer gets the readers, this blog is getting read. I feel that this is the only effective medium, at this point, whatever its flaws, and I think the correct concept of what works and what doesn't is important for the community to know.

Here's her model and my response, illustrating why her model fails. My theory of economic development, in contrast, is simply a sales model. You go out, make the calls and get the businesses interested in town. Hers is as follows:


* Involve the community to the fullest extent possible to obtain their buy-in. (My response is that politically-organized citizen forums about what people want and don't want are useless. Wal Mart is coming to town because people are going to spend money, not attend meetings. Also, having been in a consumer-driven business, I know that people often say they want something, but then fail to buy it when it's offered. Everybody says they want granola in the vending machine, but people really buy the Snickers bars and the granola rots.)

* Educate the community to the fullest extent possible as to how zoning ordinances, design guidelines, and in-fill as opposed to sprawl will be more cost effective for the taxpayer. (My response is that this would gladden, indeed, the heart of Steve Eldredge, who was a big fan of micro-managed zoning ordinances. Here's the facts from the trenches, guys: Rumford is miles ahead of towns with detailed zoning controls because people who come to town to talk about locating a business here are glad indeed to hear they will not be pecked to death by boards and code officers about setbacks and zones and restrictions and bulk and space requirements and so on. I am not making this up. This is a huge selling point for Rumford. No arbitrary, here's a business zone, here's a residential zone, oops you're five feet over the line your entire million dollar project is rejected. ZONING IS DESTRUCTIVE unless it promotes, instead of restricts. Most zoning restricts.)
* Prepare for businesses with both appropriate zoning ordinances and business incentive programs so that when they show interest in the Town, we are ready for them. ( My response: we don't need to worry about appropriate zoning ordinances, because, other than resource protection zones, we don't have any.)
* Obtain low interest loan funds from the USDA-Rural Development Program. (My response: the town has a low-interest program which is far more user friendly than the AVCOG administered loans. It's okay to keep the RDA programs in mind, but in general, you need to spend $10,000 on an accountant and a lawyer before you meet their standards. Not something to ignore, but it's not something to depend on.)
*Obtain low interest loan funds from the Finance Authority of Maine. ( My response: these are municipal bonds. Do we want to borrow money on a bond for economic development? How would the bond be spent? To pay some economic developer's $1200 a week salary?)
* Establish working relationship with AVCOG to provide businesses with business development counseling, business plan development, & financial management skills. (My response: the Growth Council has had an ongoing relationship with AVCOG and the town uses AVCOG for zoning consultancy. We have a working relationship. The problem with AVCOG is that it sits back and says, "come to us with a proposal and we'll see if we're interested." It does not reach out and help find new business. AVCOG is also the conduit for many state and federal programs. We have a problem in this region now in that, frankly, the Growth Council and the Tech Center have kind of burned out our welcome with AVCOG the state DECD and others by drawing down millions in grant money and producing very little in return.)
* Chair a Revolving Loan Fund Committee made up of banks and business owners. (My response: the town, Rumford, has a revolving loan fund which has done quite okay for itself. The selectmen are the overseeing authority. The banks don't want anything to do with below-market, uncollateralized loans.)
* Monitor the revolving loan fund program to include timely payments from loan recipients. (My response: the town manager does that.)
* Work with Town to establish zoning ordinances that promote business development. ( My response: The saying is that the power to tax is the power to destroy. The power to zone is also the power to destroy. Zoning doesn't promote anything. It prohibits things. Perhaps you could create a district in which people would receive a grant to create a business. That would be a good idea. But that's not zoning that's just an idea.)
* Create Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Districts and use taxes generated from the investment to invest in and promote more business in areas established by zoning ordinances. (My response: this statement reflects a misunderstanding of the TIF program. You grant a TIF to a specific enterprise to reduce their property taxes. It's not much of a promotional effort, it's just saying that instead of charging you $3000 a year in property taxes, we'll TIF off a grand and you only have to pay us $2000 for the first five years.)
* Promote the Tax Increment Financing districts to attract med-large businesses. My response: see above.
* Encourage business growth in the downtown by using funds generated from the Tax Increment Financing districts to assist small business owners both aesthetically & financially. (My response: TIF's don't generate funds! They reduce the tax income from specific targeted enterprises.)
* Create a plan with the Town to determine how best to invest the new taxes generated from TIFs; The investments would be dependent upon the desires of the community & Selectmen. (My response: huh? You don't generate taxes from TIFs, you forego them!)
* Promote the Town by developing a community brochure which highlights the history of the community and the assets of the community; Include contact information for ED Director. (My response: we've done that with the Economic Development Committee. Download it at http://www.growrumford.com/Rumfordinfo.pdf)
* Promote the Town by creating a website highlighting assets in the community, history of the community, available business space with square footage, acreage, & contact information. (My response: there's http://www.growrumford.com, and we have, as well, an excel file with all the commercial property available.)
* Maintain a database of all available business properties in the Rumford area; Encourage businesses to locate in the areas supported by zoning ordinances; Encourage in-fill. (My response: we have the database, see above, and no need for zoning, thank you.)
* Assist with the preservation of all historic properties; Work with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to obtain grant monies to help preserve historic buildings. (My response: I have personally worked, (with some initial help from Jennifer, by the way) to organize the Strathglass Property Owners Association. The SPOA is now on a roll, working on many fronts to improve their community. One of those is that they have contacted the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission has assigned a case manager specifically for Strathglass and will be working on a site plan for the restoration of the area. Meanwhile, those rascally SPOA folks have up and gotten themselves organized as a 501.C3 non-profit so they can attract and manage the funds needed to rehab their neighborhood. It didn't take a $1000 a weeker to get that done. In fact, the one $1000 a weeker we sought out for help, Tanya Swain of the Western Mountains Alliance, failed to do anything for SPOA, even though asked.)
* Create design guidelines for future developers so that new construction fits in with the architectural style of the community and the specific area of interest. (My response: I think we need guidelines to say we don't want any more slum firetraps)
* Encourage the development of an industrial park for commercial entities and use the initial investment of the first business as the impetus for further development within the park. (My response: the town is slowly getting its business park together. The Economic Development Committee hasn't done anything with the Business Park because there are various state and federal things slowly unfolding up there and it's not ready to start promoting.)
* Promote and market the community in a positive light through media, business contacts, regionally, and in Augusta at the state level, i.e. ďRumford is business friendlyĒ. (My response: our committee repeatedly gets the comment that Rumford is amazingly proactive, through our Committee's efforts, to the extent not seen by any other community in Maine. Yes. Check with the Maine Merchants Association, the Maine Crafts Association, the Bicycle Coaltion of Maine, Pizza Hut of Maine, South Paris Farmer's Union, Wise Real Estate and others. We are not schmoozing around with bureaucrats and non-profits. We are making the calls and promoting the town and we are getting noticed.
*Conduct business visits with all local businesses and get an idea of what their needs are to prevent them from ďgoing out of businessĒ or relocating; Work on issues that they raise at the local level. (My response: first, it's a great "make work" aimless and fruitless task for a $1000 a weeker, secondly the Chamber of Commerce is doing much of this already, third, when there's really a fire, the Economic Development Committee will respond. We recently worked with a Canal Street landlord to deal with fire code issues blocking a commercial tenant from locating in his building. Still working on that one.)
* Get the community involved at all levels to determine what the community would like to see in the future development of their Town; Conduct surveys, charettes, and public meetings. (My response: democracy is great, but all the "visioneering" sessions you can hold will not bring a business to town if there's no market for that business and, if there is a potential market, if there's no one making the calls to solicit them to come here.)
* Encourage legislative action for single industry communities that do no want to wait until that single industry has downsized or closed; Encourage Sate Government to support the same. ( My response: the reality is that the Growth Council and the Tech Center have, for the moment, exhausted the patience of the state for economic development largesse. We are on our own folks, but that's okay because I think you do better with a streetwise approach than by begging from sugar daddies.)
* Conduct an inventory of all available commercial property to include pictures so that information can be easily accessible when a business expresses interest in Rumford. ( My response: yeah, yeah, done that. Don't have the pictures though. Who would like to do those for us? We are a volunteer effort remember)
* Work with both local and potential businesses to find them commercial property that would satisfy their business needs; Encourage them to stay in Rumford, locate in Rumford, or relocate in Rumford and offer incentives for them like low interest loans, etc. (My response: this is the Growth Council's strong suit and I hope that they can find some way to survive to continue to provide this kind of service. You don't need someone in Rumford town hall duplicating their efforts.)
* Create a database of all local businesses to include their addresses and telephone numbers. (My response: that's called the phone book. But good make work for a grand a weeker.)
* Apply for grants from the Dept of Economic & Community Development when appropriate. My response: there ain't none at the moment, and especially none for our area until we get past the failed legacy of the Tech Center.
* Apply for the Main Street Maine program to get more exposure and resources for downtown(s). (My response: the Maine Street program requires the community to hire a Maine Street coordinator (another $1000 a weeker!) and these programs usually do little more than organize fluffy events like sidewalk sales.)

There is an industry growing of people who seek a big paycheck in development efforts. There is not a corresponding growth of standards to measure the performance of "development professionals". I would advocate strongly against hiring an economic development professional with a guaranteed salary. I would support developing economic development projects and paying "professionals" (whatever that means) for performance, perhaps on a commission basis, perhaps on a goal-measured basis (ie: you get $1000 if you do in fact get General Motors to build a plant on the outskirts of town.)

Rumford budgeted $90k for economic development. Had they hired an economic development "professional" they would, at this 15th week of the fiscal year, have paid out about $20,000 in salary and benefits. Our committee has spent less than $1000 and has covered much of the ground that any professional would have covered (but without pushing for zoning or other aimless and counterproductive policies.)

We need not to waste tax dollars on Wizard of Oz economic development professionals.

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by xmashen on Sat Oct 11, 2008 8:51 pm

ok, i feel like i just got my hand slapped by the teacher. sorry, phil, if you think it got too personal, but, as much as I respect your knowledge and input, things HAVE gotten personal. I am hoping you are right in that we (ok I) exxagerate her impact. If anyone deserves the job of economic developer, it would be you.

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Guest on Sat Oct 11, 2008 8:56 pm

There are many here who are aware of Mr. Blampied's vast knowledge and (seemingly) tireless volunteerism. Maybe it's time he gets due reward.

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by T on Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:05 pm

Very Happy


Last edited by T on Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:50 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Guest on Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:11 pm

Thanks, T. I agree with your post. I was debating whether to address the issue AGAIN. Glad you chose to.

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Phil Blampied on Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:34 pm

First, why bring up the problem of anonymous postings? Because even if the anonymous posters on this blog brush off my complaints, their anonymous attacks on people continue to be ethically wrong and socially destructive. If you must post anonymously, I would ask you to confine yourselves to ideas and impersonal issues, and to avoid personalities.

Secondly, it would be as mistaken to hire me as a guaranteed $1000 a week economic developer as it would to hire anyone else. I think money must be tied to specific projects and performance and that the model of a guaranteed salary is wrong for this particular kind of work. I would pay someone, for instance, $1000 to solicit a hundred widget companies to ascertain if and how and when they might come to Rumford, with a $500 bonus if one ever did so. That's a specific project, a specific injection of economic development money into economic development promotion. That's the kind of approach I think we need to take, something taken from the world of sales rather than the world of bureaucracy.

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by T on Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:39 pm

Mr. Blampied, see my edited post above.

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Admin on Sat Oct 11, 2008 10:05 pm

Hi Phil,

Thank you for your post. I have to say you are quite informed and articulate and I appreciate what you do for the town. When I read your posts, it seems clear that you are doing what you believe is best for this town and are gaining little from it except the satisfaction of helping others. Your post makes a lot of sense.

You certainly have my respect, and my appreciation.

I post here with reluctance because I feel that many here have an obsessive opposition to Jennifer and what she does, an opposition which both exaggerates her impact and carries criticism of her point of view to a unnecessarily personal and insulting level. The fact that most of the posters are anonymous is something I think you should be ashamed of. Post anonymously about a problem with streetlights. If you engage in character assasination, however, have the decency to use your real name.
Youíre right; many of us do have an obsessive opposition to TRR and its editors. Iíve talked about why many times. When someone behaves in the manor that TRR has at times, it brews anger. The site could provide a good service to the community but it also includes some very hateful, hurtful, vengeful content that has really hurt people in the community. It has hurt the entire community.

People are going to respond to that. Did you notice that when no vengeful language comes from TRR, the people on this site are silent about them?

Your point is taken though, about our criticism reaching an unnecessarily personal and insulting level. I fully believe that if TRR behaves, people on here will behave. That is the history.
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Admin on Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:17 am

Hi Phil,

We are going to continue to agree to disagree about staying anonymous. Youíre entitled to your opinion about this; we are entitled to ours and to our anonymity.

With that said, Iíve been thinking about your comment about taking the criticism of TRR and JSN to a personal and insulting level. I have a couple of more comments about that.

First, there has been an incredible amount of stuff sent to the RFP since it started, through the sites email and blog comment section, that I have refused to print. Some have been extremely angry at me for not printing it and have let me know it. The info may be funny, sarcastic, inaccurate (in my opinion) or just hurtful. We do try to keep some level of social order here and believe me when I say that with the amount of anger TRR has generated, the information on here could be much worse.

Itís a fine line to walk on here about what goes on the site. People are angry and that anger is going to come out. If you walk into a social gathering anywhere in any town and start spewing insults, telling lies about people to ruin their character and generally hurting people, you are going to generate anger. If you walk into any town and pick a fight, donít wine about how awful it is for you because you started the fight. Most people would stop the behavior that caused to fight to begin with.

TRR and JSN have walked into our town three years ago and started this longstanding conflict. I fully believe that she brought her obsession with Steve Eldridge to this town from their interactions in Lisbon and turned this town into a war zone. The casino issue made things so much worse. Anyone that sided with Steve or not actively supporting the casino was villainized on her site. Her information was biased, inaccurate and down right cruel. It didnít matter if it was a town manger, a selectmen or private citizens. The message is clear. Do as the members of the TRR say or be slandered, attacked and lied about.

We have seen clear evidence of bullying and intimidation towards people. It seems to be the basic mode of operation with TRR. It doesnít matter if itís a town department that doesnít bow to TRR or an individual or group that TRR thinks is running this site (or even associated with it). Itís the worst form of behavior to have in a town. Citizen voices are attempted to be silenced because they do not agree with TRR. TRR is clearly going to have their way, even if they have to resort to what I consider cyber-terrorism.

Good people have been severely hurt. This town has been severely hurt. Is that the type of town you want to live in Phil? Some have become so tired of that they have moved away. TRR may think that they are helping the town but the opposite is true. Towns are helped through kindness, building community spirit and collaborative development efforts. Towns are improved by people like you Phil. People that behave in a town like members of the TRR tear them down.

Iím writing this with some anger but honestly there is more sadness than anything. I fully believe that no one on this site wants this to continue. The trouble with this is TRRís strategies have been effective because no one was challenging them. Only information that TRR wanted to get out was seen by readers. RFP changed that and suddenly people were able to correct some of the misinformation (lies) and slander and push back on the hate coming from TRR.

I donít know you Phil but just from your writing on here I have a lot of respect and admiration for you. I believe you truly care about this town and the people in it and have little other motivation for what you do here. In deference to that, I ask all the contributors to the RVFP to try to keep their post on the issues as much as possible. We will still correct misinformation and point out bully, hurtful and destructive behavior.

People are angry here and they have a right to be. Letís all try not to become like the TRR with our anger.
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Timeout on Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:56 am

Great post Admin...you capture it for me. I was thinking this morning that when we send all of our energy to TRR, we spend less time on the town's difficult challenges. We still have to hold the line on their devastation at the same time.

I see that you are trying to keep threads re TRR separate from the other posts...let's keep doing that. Phil obviously put a lot of effort into his post. I hope the content of what's important doesn't get lost in the disagreement about anonymity. My only suggestion to Phil (and other posters) is that TRR related comments are in a separate post...it would be too bad to lose the content of what he has to say because it's good stuff.
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Timeout on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:04 am

I just started chuckling to myself thinking that Phil can take the heat; he's obviously a glutton for punishment as evidenced by his taking on some of the town challenges...good for him.

In my opinion, anonymity has to be a personal call and a personal responsibility for a variety of reasons. We could however have a little fun creating our own guidelines, such as:

Never post after having an argument with your spouse
Friends never let friends drink and post
Always post as if someone's is going to print it on the front page of the SJ, RFT or TRR (...lol...)
Never post anything that could be used against you in a court of law

Hey, I know it's early in the morning but we can still have fun with this...
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by KevinNSaisi on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:28 am

Okay,TRR, anger, yada yada yada....Let's discuss the economic development ideas Phil has expressed.

I believe Phil has a much better grasp of the subject matter. He is correct in his assessment of the area, and existing services. Phil, at times is too modest. He has done a great job with his GrowRumford web site. The economic development committee has worked hard and attracted a number of businesses to look at the area. Unfortunately, with the current economy, businesses are holding off on expanding. The Economic Development team has opened discussion with exisiting landlords and business owners in an effort to find mutual benefit for them and the town. Phil has done well with the help of Jim Rinaldo and other members. I am not able to attend their meetings, but I do keep up with their efforts through communication with Phil. Progress is a team effort, and as anyone who has run a sucessful business will tell you, it is all about working with ALL resources to achieve mutual goals. The Economic Development team is doing just that.

Phil's response to Jen's plan is correct. The TIF program is more like a loan program that is paid off using a portion what would be taxes. I am unsure if Jen may have been referring to Pine Tree Zones, but mistakenly called them TIF districts.

Many of the ideas expressed have been done over the years. About 10 years ago there was a searchable database of all River Valley businesses available online. The effort was done as a business venture in an effort to promote the area. Data was collected and compiled over the course of a year. It failed due to a competing effort by the non-profit web site known as the River Valley Connection, supported by the mill.

In this valley, it seems many great ideas are sabotaged when they are attempted by the wrong person. If we are to succeed as a community, we need to be willing to assist any person with their effort, rather than undermining it.

gotta go... busy day...keep smiling Smile
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Guest on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:41 am

Nice post, Kevin, except for your snide and dismissive "OK, TRR, anger, yada, yada, yada..." remark. You have your own little way of engaging in this discord. No need to judge the rest of us. Very Happy

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Admin on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:45 am

Nice post Kevin and thanks for getting this thread back on track.

Phil, would you mind if we post a link to growrumford on our site?
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Phil Blampied on Sun Oct 12, 2008 9:29 am

Sure, any and all links are helpful.

On the TIF district thing: the idea of the property tax discount a business gets with a TIF is that the money saved is supposed to go into improvements in the business, and I suppose the town should develop a way to document that. Perhaps the TIF district idea means that the town would require the property tax savings to go into "district" improvements, such as fixing the sidewalk in front of the building.

However, the point of the TIF is to give businesses an incentive to move in. If you start attaching conditions and finding ways for them to spend the money they're saving, you might as well just tax them and fix the sidewalk yourself. The incentive is diminished.

Like Pine Tree programs, TIFs only reduce the cost of opening a business. I would say we might need to go beyond that and actually give the business a cash boost. We are now speaking with a movie theater operator who has shown some initial interest in opening a theater here. I am thinking that, if the theater idea moves forward, the Economic Development Committee might organize an effort to pre-sell gift certificates, so that, on opening, the theater operator could get a thousand dollar check as an initial boost (of course it would just be a token versus the half million dollar investment such a business would require, but very welcome token nonetheless.) By the way, please remember this is in the initial stages only and could just as easily not happen as happen.

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Timeout on Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:03 am

Great idea Phil - tangible...sounds like it would be fun as well. I read the article on your site about the senior students generating business ideas for Rumford - great idea - kudos to the teacher as well.
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by C on Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:34 pm

Great post Phil, it's always great to see your input here. Why is everyone so hung up on the "downtown" or "island" district? Has anyone investigated why the retail businesses there are struggling? Has it dawned on no one that it may be because of the location? I think that area should be left to banks and business offices that don't rely on "shoppers". A shopping district that is isolated from the general through traffic generally doesn't thrive unless there is a big name business to draw people to that area. Even then it makes them reliant on the visitors to that large business. I think retail businesses need to concentrate on the Rt. 2 corridor or redirect Rt. 2 through Congress and Waldo St., what are the odds of that happening? If had the means to invest money locally in a retail business I wouldn't consider any other location than Rt. 2.
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Admin on Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:52 am

Hi Phil,

In other parts of the state in the past, when a town was faced with a neighborhood filled with unsafe, aging housing, there were federal grants from what I believe was HUD that allowed for the revitalization of several blocks at a time and included money for new housing projects for the elderly or other urban development projects.

I only am vaguely aware of these efforts and could be wrong on the details. Do you know of any grants or funds for this type of redevelopment and if so, do you think this could be something Rumford was interested in?

Thanks.
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Timeout on Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:58 am

HUD grants site:www.maine.gov - To find grant info, go to the maine.gov web page and type your question in the search box.

Here are a couple of sites that may answer the questions for you...they may all be related to the CDBG's or Community Development Block Grants

[MS WORD] State of Maine ... Assistance Program; Interim Financing Program; Section 108 Loan Program (Contingent upon HUD approval). Planning: Community Planning Grants; Project Development ...
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/19/498/498c031.doc - 2006-02-28 - Text Version

[MS WORD] State of Maine ... Loans; Non-Profit Development Grants; Pine Tree Development Zone Set Aside; Interim Financing Program Loans; Section 108 Loan Program (Contingent upon HUD approval ...
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/19/498/498c034.doc - 2006-02-28 - Text Version

[MS WORD] State of Maine ... Development Fund Loans; Non-Profit Development Grants; Interim Financing Program Loans; Section 108 Loan Program (Contingent upon HUD approval). Planning: Community ...
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/19/498/498c035.doc - 2007-03-15 - Text Version

[MS WORD] DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ... assets which have been prorated as income such as -. a. student income from grants and loans; ... Chapter III. Same g. HUD retroactive tax and utility cost subsidy. ... www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/10/144/ch301/1443013.doc - 2008-07-30 - Text Version

[MS WORD] Chapter 30 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT (CDBG) PROGRAM ... h. Section 108 Loan Program (Contingent upon HUD approval). Planning. a. Community Planning Grants. b. Project Development Phase Planning Grants. ... www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/19/498/498c030.doc - 2006-02-28 - Text Version

A couple of places to start - I'm pretty sure that Doar applied for the CDBG and we didn't get the grant - can't remember the details or whether we could qualify for resubmission. I think one of the problems was that we hadn't used up the monies for the downtown or storefront grant (can't remember what that's called)...
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Phil Blampied on Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:18 pm

Most of the links Timeout posted are the same: an explanation of the Community Block Development Grant program.

The next funding cycle for that is probably coming up. It's a good question as to who, if anyone, in town government is putting together this year's app. First, the town/selectmen/town manager would have to decide the kind of project for which they would like to request funds. Then who writes the grant application? The previous town managers had that as part of their job, but I think under the extraordinary circumstances now that may or may be true. AVCOG may help. We've used John Maloney there as a consultant in the past.

The town may be at a disadvantage due to failure to use the previous successful grant from this program, which was the facade grant. The town manager at that time failed to check with local property owners as to whether they would actually apply for the money if it were granted (it wasn't that simple, as it required a complicated app form, a requirement to pay contractors national scale union wages, and a reimbursement formula where you spend the money first and then get reimbursed for half.) As a result, most of the facade grant money went unclaimed. AVCOG is managing the facade grant money for the town, and when I checked with them, said that the program expires this fall and that they stopped even soliciting applications last summer. The failure to use that grant properly may be a problem for Rumford in subsequent grant applications.

The Economic Development Committee is not a grant-seeking group. Our focus is on soliciting new businesses, putting together packages of private market interests to bring new economic activity to Rumford.

However, another part of the town government should be working on the upcoming CDBG grant cycle, and researching whether the money might be used to ameliorate the current fire code/delapidated housing problem. There is a committee that is supposed to be working on the issue, with a meeting coming up Wednesday at 1 pm. I'm not aware that they're oriented toward looking for grants, though. Call your selectmen to get someone to start thinking about grants and the CDBG funding cycle.

Phil Blampied

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Re: Effective economic development

Post by KevinNSaisi on Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:02 pm

Phil,
How about the Planning Board. I believe implimentation of the Comprehensive Plan is their job. Wouldn't this fall under that category?
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Re: Effective economic development

Post by Phil Blampied on Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:43 pm

The Planning Board is just a group of volunteers. Researching the grant program and developing a proposal isn't something that gets done in an evening meeting by a group of volunteers, it's something that requires a number of hours during the working day. I would think it needs someone getting a paycheck, probably the town manager or members of his staff. That said, an interested citizen could do some of the preliminary research and offer the facts to the town manager and the selectmen to help them along in the process.

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