Misdirected Economic Development

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by KevinNSaisi on Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:27 pm

I didn't say we weren't.
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Phil Blampied on Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:28 pm

About the anonymous situation: it could allow destructive individuals to poison our community surreptitiously, starting a buzz to achieve political purposes in a covert, underhanded way instead of in an open, honest and public way.

Yes, it would make a difference if Dave were to reveal himself. His own postings would become more diplomatic if he were forced to be accountable for them, and perhaps more well-reasoned.

Further, if we knew who Dave is, we might be able to understand the context from which he posts.

Is this a person who stands to benefit, commercially or professionally, from the failure of the current economic development efforts? Is this a person with a history of wise participation in our community, or of what some might consider destructive participation? Is this someone, say a disgruntled former town employee, who just wishes our community ill? Is this someone from outside of Rumford who thinks his community has something to gain, emotionally if not financially, from Rumford's economic failure? All these things would help us understand what Dave is trying to do.

My take on it is that he's trying to create the general impression that the Economic Development Committee is incompetent and has a lot of opposition, with the hope that the town will disband it if the buzz grows loud enough. The buzz needs to be stopped and I think calling Dave on what he's doing might be a way to do that. If someone wants to take the position that there's something wrong with the Economic Development Committee, they need to come to the meetings of the Board of Selectmen and make their case to the appropriate parties in the appropriate venue.

By the way, we are hardly just working on restaurants. We have a half dozen active projects. The theory is to advance on all fronts, turn over all stones, until something works out for us.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Timeout on Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:20 pm

Phil Blampied wrote:
Yes, it would make a difference if Dave were to reveal himself. His own postings would become more diplomatic if he were forced to be accountable for them, and perhaps more well-reasoned.

And by example of your own diplomatic, well-reasoned postings you stand by this claim? The only people who make diplomatic, well-reasoned postings on here all the time don't actually post...lol... I hold myself as no exception...I can be just as undiplomatic and unreasonable as anyone...ask my kids.
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by T on Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:21 pm

Phil Blampied wrote:About the anonymous situation: it could allow destructive individuals to poison our community surreptitiously, starting a buzz to achieve political purposes in a covert, underhanded way instead of in an open, honest and public way.
It doesn't need to be anonymous to be destructive, RE: The Rumford Reporter, et. el.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by C on Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:35 pm

OMG, I don't check in for a day and I miss all this!! Lol, this is too funny- seems I remember posting the suggestion of the blue ox on the open doar as well as relocating it visibly on the island to draw visitors. I didn't think it was such a bad idea....

Competition is a fact of life- any person in marketing knows that. I don't think it's fair that because a particular business was here first that we have to be stuck with only that business. I'd love to see a 99 restaurant or Pizza Hut- we don't have a steak house style restaurant and the only italian one we have is Sam's. Panera Bread would be another awesome addition. Why should I have to travel out of town to have a variety of choices? I know many people who go out of town only for the purpose of eating out and the movies. Big name restaurants might draw some of the skiers down from Sunday River to our area. I do think the only thing that will save the island as a retail shopping district (other than Mr.Bunyan & Babe) is a big name store. Bed Bath and Beyond and Linen's and things usually build themselves new stores so they're out. I would think a place like Reny's would fit in well on the island.
Land owners are asking a "king's ransom" for what they consider commercial property. If we want economic development in this area it might be wise for the town to start buying some of these lots in order to keep the price fair to potential developers. One we get a few big name businesses here the property values will go up. Right now a plot of land in town on Rt. 2 really isn't worth any more than one on Maple St.
I applaud Mr. Blampied for his efforts in trying to bring business to our community.
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Dave on Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:41 pm

Phil - I hardly said you were incompetent. And I'm not trying to make the River Valley area look bad. I'd love to see it revitalized. It's becoming quite obvious, however, that you blatantly discard my constructive criticism. I would love you to be successful in bringing new industries to town. But to simply replace existing companies with ones you deem more attractive is foolish, and unfair in my humble opinion. Have you talked with local restaurants about attracting a chain restaurant to the area? What do they think about your efforts?

Frankly, if the numbers were there, there would be more restaurants of all types. I just can't see that the numbers are there.

Inside of begging some out-of-state franchise to come to town, how about encouraging the locals to go to the existing restaurants?

I don't live in town, but I probably eat out in the River Valley twice a month. I've never waited in line, and have gotten some pretty decent meals, that many times exceed the value of a 99, Applebees, or other chain thing that specialize in "re-thermalizing" their food. I can go to those places anyplace, in any state. Why would I want to go to Rumford to eat in one?

I feel better, knowing my tab is going towards a local restaurant, with owners that live in the River Valley, spend their money in the River Valley, and so on. And my personal opinion is that it makes the community far more attractive than trying duplicate Main Street, USA. I still have fond memories of "Freddies", where the waitresses always called you "honey".

As I said before, it's very unfair for government dollars to subsidize competition for existing businesses.

That said, I do applaud the Eco Dev Committee for investigating such industries as Wood Pellet manufacturing, expanded Educational opportunities (have you checked with Andover College? - they might be able to be persuaded) and the like.

Yes, I was a bit over the top with the Blue Ox comments, but I still find it hilarious. Sorry. I just don't get it. And by the way, it's hardly a unique attraction. Read this. (I also don't get those silly looking silohuettes below the information center. Tacky, tacky, tacky. But, I suppose, different strokes for different folks. What's next, carving a replica of Mt. Rushmore up on the Mexico ledges? Now THAT would be an attraction.

You are trying to make a difference. I appreciate that, as someday I wouldn't mind moving back home. But I could care less if there is a chain restaurant. Others may feel different. C'est la vie. That's America.

I apologize if you thought my criticsm was personal. It was not meant to be. It was a critique of an idea. And no Phil, despite your conspiracy theories, I have no financial interests in the River-Valley. None. Nada. Zip.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Phil Blampied on Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:59 pm

Very different tone and I welcome it.

Yes, we do speak with local businesses. I have spoken to the River Valley Grill about whether they might commercialize their bread. I have spoken to Dick's about their wholesale purchasing and whether we could help bring in some competition to Sysco to save them some money. I have spoken to the Rt. 2 Diner and Teena's about various stuff. We have spent quite a bit of time trying to help the owner of the Penalty Box restaurant get a tenant and re-open. Have I asked the permission of an existing restaurant before soliciting another? Well, no. Would you? Results? Some times you just have to open the conversation and that's as far as you get for a while. Remember, we've been active less than six months and we're in the teeth of the worst economic storm since the Great Depression.

I would also like to work the angle of taking a successful local businessperson and helping them get into a franchise, so that the new "chain" coming in would be, in fact, under local ownership.

About wood pellet manufacturing: you get the same non-compete argument from the mill. They don't want competition for wood from another wood-consuming enterprise. If you parse the recent statements by Senator Susan Collins about wood pellets, you see her curtsy toward the paper industry in her qualified support for wood pellets. We've gotten some feedback that's there's adequate wood for everybody. Who knows? Anyway, getting a pellet mill going isn't something that will happen quickly. It's not easy to make it happen. For instance, the proposed pellet mill in Strong is stalled and they are going to the state looking for a grant, and early feedback from the state isn't positive, but they're going to ask anyway. You read it here first.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by KevinNSaisi on Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:02 pm

Dave,
I am a bit confused... You say that there are plenty of restaurants in the area, and a new one would kill the others, but then you speak of local people prefering to eat at local restaurants. The restaurants that Phil mentioned are more likely to be frequented by tourists. Local flavor is great as long as it isn't on the end of your fork. Our local restaurants all put out a quality product, but the perception of the passer-by is that a local restaurant is suspect until proven tasty. Most travellers perfer known name restaurants. They are looking for a Friendly's, Hardee's or other big name because they know the menu, and know the quality. Unfortunately, many of our restaurants don't have the exterior design to attract tourists. Goodwins did well because they looked like a Friendly's restaurant and had a similar menu. They also were a regional chain. When a traveller sees a regional chain in many small towns, they trust the quality more, because "it must be good if it is that successful". Compare the image of Goodwin's to that of some other small town eateries. Do yourself a favor and visit a small town you haven't been to before. Look at the restaurants and compare their appeal to a well known brand. You will likely find that the small town restaurant raises questions in your mind that a known brand does not.

One way that restauranteurs can battle the image problem is to advertise. If I see a sign or ad for a business, it leads me to think that they must be doing well to be able to afford to advertise. Now, I am not saying that everybody does this anaylsis consciously, but most do it unconsciously. I have seen the process in people's eyes when they stop at the local convenience store asking about places to eat. When they leave, I can tell you if they actually plan to stop at the recommended place, or keep going to the next town.

I have suggested to a number of people that our businesses need to better promote themselves. It remains to be seen if my suggestions are considered.
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Phil Blampied on Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:10 pm

Numbers.

The chains look for a number of things. One is a 20,000 per day traffic stream. We have 11,000 per day on Rt. 2. They look at the median income and population within a 3 miles radius of the site. They look for good infrastructure. We've got that, sewer and water with proper pipe radii.

For our weakness in traffic flow, population and median income, we offer super low property taxes and a light regulatory environment. A business will not have to spend $30,000 up front in lawyer and engineer fees dealing with excessive zoning requirements. We also offer a hugely grateful reception. Go to Freeport and they'll probably show up with picket signs if you try to open something that doesn't conform to the upscale surroundings. Here, what the heck, hire 20 people and we're smiling. The lack of NIMBYism and the welcoming attitude of the town government can make a big difference.

We also offer an advantage in terms of the fact that there are so many unfilled niches here. Look at McDonald's. We probably don't fit the corporate siting protocol, but when people finish driving the commercially-vacant 20 miles from Newry to the McDonald's site, they are more than ready to stop in, if for nothing else than to use the rest room.

It would boost things if we were on an interstate, but oh well. We have advantages and disadvantages. We are betting on the fact that an active outreach to new business will tip the balance.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Dave on Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:45 pm

Kevin -

I guess I'm not a typical tourist. Whenever I am travelling, the LAST place I want to eat is a chain restaurant.

Why would I want to drive a 100 miles and eat at the same place, with the same food, with the same attitude that I can in my hometown?

Sorry, I don't buy your argument.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Dave on Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:50 pm

How many chain restaurants in Bethel? In Bar Harbor? In Ogunquit? In Boothbay Harbor? In Wiscasset? In Greenville? In York? In Jackman? In the Old Port?

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Phil Blampied on Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:02 pm

Chains? Not sure of your point. Bethel has Pat's Pizza, Subway (in an Irving), Dunkin Donuts (in a Shell). Bar Harbor and MDI have numerous Subways, but more telling, the gateway community, Ellsworth, has every single fast food franchise you can name, from McD's to Burger King, to Pizza Hut, to KFC, etc. I would compare Rumford more to Ellsworth than Bar Harbor.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by KevinNSaisi on Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:34 pm

Those are all destination locations. I was referring to pass through communities.
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by C on Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:36 pm

Have you talked with local restaurants about attracting a chain restaurant to the area? What do they think about your efforts?
That's really a no-brainer- of course they wouldn't want a chain restaurant! Does McDonald's want us to have a BK? Nope. Was Larsen's thrilled that Sears was moving here to sell appliance? Probably not. Was Olympia Sports welcomed by Carlisles? The Dollar Tree welcomed by Family Dollar?
It would be great to have a Home Depot or Lowe's do you think that if we ever met their demographic requirements we shouldn't have one because of Puiia's and Aubuchon?
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Dave on Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:55 pm

"C" - that really wasn't my point.

My point is that Economic Development efforts in the town should be focused on providing competition to existing businesses.

Bad karma. Very Happy

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Dave on Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:58 pm

Well Kevin - you referred to "tourists" in your post. Please make up your mind.

So you think "pass through" traffic will keep all these places viable, and not impact local businesses?

I agree with your earlier comment - many of the local places need to invest in more appealing facades, interiors, etc. But to do that, they need to be attract a lot more business to pay for it. I'm not sure it's there.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by KevinNSaisi on Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:16 pm

Dave, please don't go to extremes. Just because I say that tourists are more likely to go to chains doesn't mean that locals won't. If you are going to play such games, I have nothing more to say.
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by 911Dispatcher on Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:55 pm

I'd like to see a Krispy Kreme move into town to compete with Dunkin Donuts Wink
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:02 am

911Dispatcher wrote:I'd like to see a Krispy Kreme move into town to compete with Dunkin Donuts Wink


NO WAY.............................TIM HORTANS................That's some good stuff applause applause applause party .


Jason and Stephanie Thompson

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Phil Blampied on Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:40 am

I approached Tim Horton's about a year ago, when I started Grow Rumford and before I got involved with the town. They have a real estate manager in Portland. It doesn't hurt to have people from the community contact a company, saying that they are big fans and would like to see a branch here.

Let me dig up the guy's contact info and post it here (if I can find it).

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Phil Blampied on Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:50 am

Best I could do after rooting around old emails was this:

customer_service@timhortons.com

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by C on Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:43 pm

No matter what the business it will have impact on other businesses, it may be negative impact as far as competition but it also has the potential of positive impact by bringing new jobs and people to the area.

I think a Denny's would do well here. Especially since the closing of Freddie's and DiConzo's. Their expanded hours would work well with the truckers and mill workers. It would be a "brand name" family style restaurant that would offer the tourists an alternative to McDonald's. And, of course, the bar crowd would love an eating place that was open at 1 in the morning!
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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Dave on Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:17 pm

Rumford is too small for a Denny's, despite its favorable "no hassle" economic development factor.

Read their site criteria here. In addition, estimated start-up costs would be $1.2 to $2 million. That's a lot of "Moons over my Hammy" to sell.

Believe what you want, I don't think a full-size chain restaurant is gonna happen. I'm a bit surprised a fast-food joint hasn't located near Wal-Mart, though.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by Phil Blampied on Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:56 am

Yes, start up costs are high. Chain restaurants have looked at property near Wal-Mart and lost interest because of unreasonably high asking prices. (The same old problem.) The site criteria for large companies are a wish list. With the 99, we would no way fit their site criteria, but neither would Littleton, NH, where they put one in. The site criteria are a best of all possible worlds scenario for them. One possible solution to the high land cost problem is that the River Valley Plaza is very willing to work with the town on economic development, and I could see them allowing something like a Denny's or whatever to go in at the opposite edge of their parking lot for a reasonable land lease rather than the quarter-to-half million purchase cost other property owners are asking. I'm sure the McDonald's is a million dollar investment, but it's there. If it doesn't make sense for a chain to locate here, why did they? ANYWAY, the econ dev committee is not focused solely on chain restaurants. We're working on anything we can get, short of perhaps a few unsavory kinds of businesses, or, yes, something that would fly right in the face of an existing business.

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Re: Misdirected Economic Development

Post by C on Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:02 am

I wonder if we could attract any of the coastal seasonal business? They could move their business to ski country in the winter...
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