By Ramona du Houx

May 23, 2012
Over 300 downtown revitalization leaders honored the Heart of Biddeford, recipient of the 2012 Main Street Maine Community of the Year award in Farmington last Friday. Since their official Main Street designation in 2006, over $18 million in public and private investments have been made downtown Biddeford resulting in over 150 housing units of all kinds and 25 net new businesses.

“The Heart of Biddeford is helping to fill storefronts and generate significant positive press about their revitalization,” stated Terry Ann Holden, co-Chair of the Maine Downtown Center’s Advisory Council and Chair of the Awards Selection Committee. Additional Achievement Awards were presented in 13 categories.

The announcements were made during the opening rally of the 12th annual Maine Downtown Conference titled Innovation Meets Main Street. Featured speaker Doug Hall, entrepreneur, author, and Innovation Engineering® founder, was joined by 37 additional presenters in 15 educational sessions and downtown walking tours. The conference concluded with a closing reception in the historic Franklin County Court House where four Pitch Competition winners were announced.

Brunswick became the newest Main Street Maine community to receive the coveted Main Street designation, joining nine other nationally designated downtowns statewide.

“Our ten Main Street communities join ranks with over 850 professionally managed downtown programs across the country affiliated with the National Trust Main Street Center. These special places are passionate on preserving their historic character while revitalizing their local economies,” stated Roxanne Eflin, Maine’s State Coordinator with the National Main Street Center and Senior Program Director of the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center.

The Brunswick Downtown Association, the managing organization for their downtown, will receive a variety of resources, including an in-depth personalized Resource Team report and a multi-year package of training services valued at $30,000.

Calais, Camden, Castine and Kennebunk were also announced as the 2012 additions to the Maine Downtown Network program. These four communities bring to 20 the number of downtowns in the Network representing every county in Maine. They will receive guidance, resources and professional training in the art and science of downtown revitalization though the Maine Downtown Center staff, the Center’s 24-member volunteer Advisory Council and the National Trust Main Street Center. The Maine Downtown Network was created in 2009 as a first step to help communities organize around the Four Point Approach® and/or potentially apply for Main Street designation in the future.

Special recognition was given to Main Street Bath, winner of a 2012 Great American Main Street award, presented to them by the National Trust Main Street Conference in April during the National Main Streets Conference. Their winning video may be viewed at http://www.mdf.org .

Winners of the 2012 Downtown Achievement Awards were announced during the opening plenary session, selected from a record number of nominations.

· Shannon Haines, Executive Director of Waterville Main Street and Director of the Maine International Film Festival, received the coveted Downtown Visionary of the Year award for her innovative leadership and exceptional efforts in numerous areas over nine year to revitalize downtown Waterville.

· Norway Downtown and the Augusta Downtown Alliance in partnership with the City of Augusta tied for and each were presented with the Maine Downtown Network of the Year award.

· Also to Augusta went the Public Official of the Year award, to City Councilor Daniel Emery who also serves on the board of the Augusta Downtown Alliance.

· Outstanding Historic Preservation awards were presented to 449 Main Street, LLC in Rockland and to Waterfront Maine for the rehabilitation of Merrill’s Wharf in Portland, both multi-use historic tax credit projects.

· The second annual Green Downtowns award was presented to Main Street Bath for their work in pedestrian improvements under the Route 1 viaduct.

· Two awards for Outstanding Promotional Event of the year were presented to Rockland for the Lobster Trap Tree and to Norway Downtown in partnership with the Roberts Preserve for the Mellie Dunham Shoe and String Festival.

· The Beehive Collective in Machias received the Outstanding Community Spirit Award.

· The Outstanding Public/Private Partnership award was presented to the Community of Eastport and Tides Institute for the Sutherland Amphitheater and Schoodic Sculpture. They also brought home the Best Business Recruitment Effort of the Year award.