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Regional economic development board taking shape

News

Regional economic development board taking shape

PORTLAND — A group created to market greater Portland as a place to do business is deciding who should serve on its first board of directors.

The Greater Portland Economic Development Corp. includes Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Scarborough. In addition to municipal representation, the group also includes representatives from the education and business sectors.

"We're in the process of populating a board of directors," said Godfrey Wood, president and CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Wood said the idea has been in the works for about two years. In the past few months member municipalities have signed on and founding members are writing by-laws and vetting potential board members.

The board will include as many as 19 members. There will be six officials from represented municipalities; one chamber representative; two Southern Maine Educational Alliance representatives, and up to 10 members representing different business sectors including life science, information technology, precision manufacturing and hospitality.

"This is literally a public-private partnership and it needs to be to be respectable," Wood said.

"A goal is to brand our region," Wood explained. He said part of that process includes letting businesses from outside Maine know what the region is looking for and what it has to offer.

The board should come together in two to three months, and after that the corporation will get to work on how to fund itself. Some funding would eventually come from member municipalities, but initially funding will be sought from grants and other outside sources.

The board's initial charge will also include coming up with a marketing plan.

Portland's municipal designee for the board had not been announced as of Tuesday, but City Hall spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said she expects the city manager to make a decision soon. Manager Joe Gray's last day on the job is Friday.

Some towns have already designated their board members. Falmouth will be represented by its director of long-range planning, Theo Holtwijk; Town Councilor Jim Walsh will represent Cape Elizabeth, and Scarborough Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Harvey Rosenfeld will be a board member, according to Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall.

Hall said it is his understanding that Portland and South Portland will appoint their economic development directors, Greg Mitchell and Erik Carson, respectively.

Wood said people seeking more information about the GPEDC should contact the chamber at 772-2811.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net