City Moving Forward With Economic Development Plan

City Councilmen Alan Dwelley and Anne Nixon, Assistant City Manager Jim Porter and Calais Regional Hospital CEO Mike Lally participate in the council’s Economic and Community Development Plan Workshop last week. (Photo by Marla Hoffman).

By Marla Hoffman 

The consensus among city officials is that no one wants to see the new Plan for Economic and Community Development sit up on a shelf. 

“I want to see this as a living document,” said Mayor Marianne Moore to a group gathered at St. Croix No. 1 Firehouse last week. “All of us in this room, we’re in this together, and we need to work together to accomplish this.”

Moore and city council gathered with members of Calais in Motion, the Calais Downtown Revitalization Coalition, Calais Regional Hospital, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Mobilize Maine, Sunrise County Economic Council and other interested community members to talk about what can be done right now to set the plan, drafted by CWS consultants this fall, in full steam ahead.

By the end of the nearly hour and a half meeting, most agreed that setting up a marketing strategy would be the first step of many to get Calais on the path to economic recovery. 

“It’s a big step, but we need to work on this now,” said Moore. 

One of the first tasks will be to create a marketing brochure, which will focus on all the local and regional highlights, such as the hospital and Moosehorn. 

The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce already has a brochure, as does Calais in Motion — both of which will be used to create one for the city of Calais specifically.

“Rather than reinvent the wheel, we can work off of what we already have,” said Moore.

Part of creating the brochure will be to map Calais’ assets. Mobilize Maine project coordinator Larry Saunders, of the County Economic Council, has been working on asset mapping for the whole county. Along with Tim Crowe of the chamber of commerce, he will be working on zeroing in on what Calais has to offer — in terms of both tourism and business attraction. Bill Kolodnicki of Moosehorn offered to help contribute to diagramming Calais’ natural assets — including the refuge.  

“We can use the templates of the Mobilize Maine process,” said Saunders. “If we can do it regionally, we can do it locally.”

“You’ve got to know what you’re selling,” added Councilor Billy Howard.

The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce is working on a welcome package for visitors and people new to the area, said Crowe. This is also an opportunity for collaboration, said Moore. 

One of the other more immediate tasks will be working on a vision statement. Moore and the City Council will be establishing a task force to work on setting the goals of the plan in motion, as well as writing a vision statement. Moore meetings, which are open to the public, will be held in the coming months.