New bond investments are helping to grow Maine’s creative economy and enhance the state’s quality of life

qmitf.jpg (47913 bytes)

Article and photos by Ramona du Houx

The 123rd Legislature, working with the Baldacci administration, passed a $295 million investment package before the downturn in the national economy hit Maine. The wisdom of Maine voters ensured that bonds, which represented these investments, were passed in 2007, enabling Maine to move forward in the 21st-century economy.

Photo:  With the River Dam Mill as a backdrop DECD Commissioner John Richardson delivered the MITF grant to Bidderford. Portland based Spencer Monks Development, are redeveloping the Riverdam Mill, investing approximately $32 million.

"Already, highway bonds have been put to work improving the roads and bridges that carry our goods and people and connect our economy to markets across the country and around the world," said Governor Baldacci in his weekly radio address. "Already, the bonds are helping to make our water cleaner and helping our communities grow. We’re better able to build schools, preserve important open space and natural resources and protect those things that make Maine special."

As part of the bond package, voters approved $1.5 million for the Municipal Investment Trust Fund (MITF). Last July MITF grants began being distributed to eight communities to enhance their downtown centers and spur regional economic development activities.

"The $1.5 million bond passed last fall is going to support these communities, revitalize their downtowns, and grow the economy," said Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner John Richardson. "All eight grants are being used for improvements that will spur economic development. I hope the redevelopment success of the communities awarded this year will encourage voters to support future bonds for MITF grants. It is a vital element to Maine’s growth."

The MITF grants are investments in smart growth, so that Maine will not turn into a state that looks like any other state with strip malls. Maine is fortunate to still have classic New England buildings still standing and mills that can be turned into economic centers of activity, as well as housing.

Downtown revitalization programs and redevelopment initiatives help Maine communities grow, bringing diverse people together to work for their future. Supporting downtown projects with MITF grants invests in the people of Maine and the state’s future. The funds enhance Maine’s quality of life.

The MITF grants include:

  • Bath will use the $126,000 for improvements to the Water Street parking areas including: upgrading the sidewalks, new granite curbing and planting 14 trees.

  • Biddeford’s $350,000 will help to redevelop the Riverdam Mill into a combination of new businesses and mixed-income housing. The investment will help to restore part of Biddeford’s historic legacy, while creating new jobs.

  • Brunswick’s $350,000 grant will support the Maine Street Station project, a vital transportation hub that will help open the Midcoast to expanded rail service and provide an important link to ground transportation.

  • Bucksport’s $92,600 grant will be used to develop off-street parking to support businesses located along Main Street; specifically the redevelopment of the historic Jed Prouty Tavern & Inn.

  • Dover-Foxcroft’s $33,000 MITF grant will enable the Center Community Theater to purchase space for retail and business use by the theater.

  • Greenville $350,000 MITF grant will replace the single south-side boat launch with a 24’-wide boat launch and landscaping.

  • Scarborough’s $85,410 MITF grant will be used for streetscape and sidewalk improvements.

  • Rockland’s $82,990 grant will fund downtown development projects: a 38-space lighted parking lot, a new sidewalk, and a new paved walkway.

qmitf2.jpg (40598 bytes)The funds do more than rebuild street corners; they invest in the uniqueness of Maine. When a sidewalk is rebuilt and trees planted, more people feel at home walking downtown, business picks up in stores, cafes and restaurants open up, and more businesses see the potential of the quality of life created, which in turn helps them grow. The MITF grants are contributing to Maine’s creative economy that builds upon Maine’s Yankee ingenuity, strength of character, and innovation.

PHOTO:  Dover-Foxcroft’s $33,000 MITF grant will enable the Center Community Theater to purchase space for retail and business use by the theater

"The Municipal Investment Trust Fund is helping communities make improvements that otherwise might not be possible. The investments are creating new jobs and new opportunities. We’re helping to support a strong public-private partnership, at the same time filling needs for workforce housing, improved access to mass transit, increased public safety and enhanced natural resources," said Governor Baldacci. "These are the investments that will help Maine maintain its special qualities and character — the things we love best about our home; our unique downtowns, our environment, our open spaces, our heritage and our people."