Comp Plan Minutes: 8/15/19 (Economic Development)

AUGUSTA COMPREHENSIVE PLAN COMMITTEE

MINUTES

Thirteenth Meeting – Economic Development

Monday, August 15, 2019 at 6pm

Fort Western Learning Gallery at City Center

Meeting called to order at 6:02pm.

In attendance: Heather Pouliot, Brad Sawyer, Kevin Lind, Bill McKenna, Katie Smith, Kim Silsby, Justin Frank, Kevin Judkins, Mark O’Brien, Stan Koski, Robert Dodge, Keith Luke, and Bill Handy.

Welcome remarks and committee introductions:

Members of the public are welcome to share their ideas regarding the future of the city as it relates to economic development in our community. 

Overview of economic development in Augusta by Keith Luke:

  • Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
  • Tax-acquired property
  • Business development and incentives
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
  • We are a commuter city – larger daytime population
  • Augusta is a leader in providing senior housing

Public opportunity to identify concerns/suggestions that they want addressed within the comprehensive plan:

Bill Handy, resident of Maple Street: provide more emphasis on economic development in the new comp plan; should state our economic goals; consider impact of historical preservation; the city should be more proactive.

Mark O’Brien, city councilor at-large: consider development at Kennebec Lockes; Riggs Brook area is another area for development opportunities; lack of infrastructure for development; Kennebec Arsenal is a missed opportunity, but hopefully will come around; rail expansion is another opportunity; community development vs. economic development; retail space is changing; vacant lots; what is the future of our malls; look at Riggs Brook standards; has that impacted development; the comp plan should acknowledge the successes of TIF’s.

Kevin Judkins, city councilor ward 2: comp plan should prepare us to the best ability to receive economic development opportunities when they are presented to us; city support was phenomenal in development process that he was recently involved with; keep pressure to do what we can when development comes forward.

Stan Koski, resident: support rail expansion to Augusta; economic development is great; Augusta is only one of a few state capitols without rail service; council expressed interest in the past for rail; passenger rail would greatly benefit Augusta.

Committee discussion on economic development, and other related items:

Kim: need to encourage a qualified workforce in the comp plan.

Other committee matters:

A doodle poll will be sent to members to determine the date for our next comp plan meeting. This will be the beginning of committee deliberations. 

Next meeting is TBD at this time.

Adjourned.

ADDENDUM TO MINUTES (EMAILS SENT):

Eric Lind, city councilor, ward 4: Augusta should promote being a small business service center. I have stated this at the city goal setting sessions in 2018 and 2019. We should market Augusta as a service center for small business. The city is home to offices of the Small Business Administration, FAME, SCORE, Small Business Development Center, Career Center, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, New Ventures, Department of Economic and Community Development and UMaine Cooperative Extension.

Robin Miller, resident: I’m sorry I missed that but it was unavoidable. My ideas – you probably know them by heart by now – always start with…wait for it…Trader Joe’s! Then the Western Avenue Malls – they MUST be tarted up…or have some types of activities there. Pop up shops? Scavenger hunts? Merry go Rounds?? Dead malls are  depressing and so symbolic of a failing local economy…potential businesses look for signs of life. 

I was listening to Channel 6 news this morning on some signs of life in Bangor. They used the term “algorithm” to refer to finding the right mix of businesses, shops, & cultural activities to attract that will generate maximal excitement.

There could also be a support network or council for people who want to venture into the air B&B business. There is a real market for that, and for short term rentals from visiting doctors, nurses, and students. And lots of older folks, retired or not,  have extra rooms now that the kids have left, and could use the extra income.

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