Cumberland joins communities officially 'open for business'

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CUMBERLAND — The town’s work in streamlining its licensing and permitting process has helped it earn business-friendly certification from the state.

Cumberland was one of five communities selected in the second round of Gov. Paul LePage’s certification program, according to an announcement Monday from the Department of Economic and Community Development.

“I want to thank and congratulate the communities of Pittsfield, Cumberland, Westbrook, Lewiston and Auburn for their continued commitment to business excellence,” LePage said in a statement. “All of these communities are focused on creating a better environment for private sector job growth and driving our economy forward by reducing red tape and being open for business.”

Cumberland and Pittsfield successfully resubmitted from the first round of certifications. Bath, Augusta, Biddeford, Brewer, Bucksport, Guilford, Lincoln, Saco previously received business-friendly status.

Communities selected for the program receive certificates and a Maine Department of Transportation road sign, and are expected to become a significant part of the state’s business attraction strategy, according to the DECD.

Nominees are evaluated in areas such as business involvement and collaboration, customer service, public input, and licensing and permitting. The latter was a particularly important aspect for Cumberland.

Alyssa Tibbetts, the town’s economic development director, said Tuesday that Cumberland separated its licensing and permitting processes so that both a staff review and Planning Board route are available to applicants. That allows smaller projects to undergo the simpler staff review process, shortening the timeline for notification and review.

“We’ve added a staff review process for smaller projects, and we’ve also worked with businesses leading up to Planning Board meetings to allow them to get approval in one meeting,” instead of having to keep coming back, Tibbetts said, which can reduce the time, effort and money spent on gaining project approval.

She said she hopes Cumberland’s new status can “raise awareness of what we’ve been doing to make the process more streamlined and to collaborate with businesses.”

“I think it’s a good indication of the work we’ve been doing over the past couple of years,” Tibbetts said, “and it acknowledges all that the Council and Planning Board and staff have worked hard to achieve.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.