“Actions Need to Happen” Focus of Joint Economic Development Meeting

By Jayna Smith

A joint economic development meeting last Wednesday night that was to be between representatives of Baileyville Town Council and Calais City Council, and other interested parties, resulted in no representation from the Calais council.  Baileyville Town Manager Rick Bronson explained to those citizens in attendance that the meeting was a continuation of a series of meetings that began a year and a half ago and said, “We continue forward with this idea that we are going to do something with regards to economic development.”  He thanked Cathy Footer of Robbinston, Bill Barnett of Calais, and Alan Dwelley of Calais for their continued presence and interest in the focus of the group.  Also in attendance were Executive Director of Sunrise County Economic Council Charles Rudelitch, Baileyville Councilor Dave McAlpine, and Baileyville residents Dick and Alane Gayton.

Baileyville councilor Tim Call addressed the group, reiterating its original focus.  “I’d like to first touch on the vision because I think we’ve really lost focus on where we’re going...The vision that we need to stick with is economic development.  What’s going to cure (the present economic state of the area) is to bring a tax base in to help the City of Calais, the Town of Baileyville, all the surrounding areas.”

Call acknowledged budget crises within both communities, but praised the work the group has completed thus far.  “Our vision was to set out to be a regional group together to make a difference in economic development, and we did that.  We got members, we put meetings in place, which is great.”  He noted, however, that a leader needs to be appointed in order to attain the goals of the group. 

“Ideas need to stop, actions need to happen.  We need to come up with ideas that are going to enhance our communities—which we’ve done, but we’ve done nothing with it.  To date, only ideas have been put to paper and no actions have come out of it.  To keep this group working together, we need to establish a leader and tonight I vote in the short term it’s going to be Mr. Bronson.  He’s going to have connections and get out and lead us.  I think he, to me, is the logical person for this,” Call said.  There were no objections. 

Call also addressed the need for clear goals which he referred to as SMART goals:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  “These are things that are going to keep us on pace and get us in the direction where we want to go.”  He also stressed that once the goals of economic development begin to be or are met, the group needs to stay in place.  “This is about the entire region and us working together to bring something that will benefit all of us.”

Noting the lack of representation from the Calais City Council, despite a time change to the meetings to better accommodate, Call stressed the need for the two communities to work together.  “If this group is going to survive, it needs to be all of us together.  We can’t decide not to come to meetings because of personality issues and things of that nature…This is totally separate than what’s going on budgetary in Baileyville or Calais.  This is solely economic development that’s going to bring a tax base to these communities.” 

Bronson and Call both suggested the idea of an economic development consultant to assist.  “We need someone with expertise and a proven track history who actually has contacts out in the greater business world,” Bronson said.  “One of the last acts of (former Calais City Manager) Diane Barnes was to put up $6,500 to help fuel something of this nature.”  Baileyville currently holds that money, and he added, “We can give that money back if that’s the direction we need to go.”  He did state that Baileyville can match that amount and “probably add to it” through tax increment financing (TIF). 

After some positive discussion among those in attendance, tasks were assigned to be completed before the next meeting.  It was concluded that Bronson, Barnett, and Footer will work to arrange meetings regarding potential business.  Bronson will also reach out to Bangor/Brewer Economic Development contacts and will study an existing economic development plan previously written for the City of Calais.  The group also agreed upon a name:  Eastern Washington County Development Cooperative, or EWCDC. 

Calais City Mayor Marianne Moore later told The Calais Advertiser, “It was unfortunate that there were no members of the (Calais) committee at the meeting.”  She reported that Councilors Billy Howard and Artie Mingo are the council representatives and she and they had conflicts with the meeting time.  “We strongly support any economic development we can all work together to accomplish, as it benefits all of the communities.  Schedules simply kept us from attending and participating in the discussion.”

 

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 10th at 5:00 p.m at Washington County Community College.