Falmouth hires NY firm for economic development plan

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FALMOUTH — The town has hired a New York consulting firm to create a first-of-its-kind economic development plan to present to the Town Council in May.

Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs, New York, will work with the Falmouth Economic Improvement Committee and Brunswick-based Innovation Policy Works to create the plan. Camoin will be paid $40,000.

Theo Holtwijk, the town’s director of long range planning, said the result will be the town’s first economic development plan. He said it will be a useful way to help the town set priorities and to see where the town should and should not commit resources.

He said the plan will help “set the priorities for the role of the town,” and find what the town’s role should be. And part of that, he said, will reflect the fact that not everyone who lives in Falmouth works in Falmouth, and vice versa.

“We live lives that are not bounded by municipal borders,” Holtwijk said. “It’s a much larger geography that we all operate in, and clearly with the Internet it’s an even larger geography in terms of how we conduct business. So it’s recognizing that we are just a small piece in a much larger puzzle.”

Another consideration is the town’s partnership with businesses, and with organizations like the Falmouth Business Association and the Falmouth Cumberland Community Chamber of Commerce

Camoin is already more than halfway through a 12-step process, Holtwijk said, and is preparing a public forum for Jan. 13 at the Town Council Chambers. The company has created an economic profile of the town, he said, which includes demographic and socioeconomic information, and an economic analysis.

The profile determined Falmouth has a “notable share of adults” between the ages of 45 to 69, but a “very low share of young adults, especially those in the 25 to 29 cohort,” Holtwijk said. Young adults are potential employees, he noted, so the town is under represented in that category.

“So unsurprisingly, perhaps, we find that a lot of young workers who work in Falmouth come from elsewhere on a daily basis, they just travel in,” he said.

He said the aging population in Falmouth might mean there are potential employment opportunities in senior services.

The goal of the plan is not just to support a specific age demographic though, but rather a number of different puzzle pieces that Holtwijk said “could represent developing and strengthening a positive culture,” as well as positive attitudes towards economic, business and commercial development.

He said this kind of development doesn’t have to make people fearful, especially when contrasted with open-space plans. Holtwijk said preservation and economic development can “dovetail” each other.

“It’s trying to sort of understand the underlying geography of it,” he said. “It says we know Falmouth is very good, but if we do a thoughtful planning we can be an even better town.”

Holtwijk said the May presentation to the council is a goal, not a deadline.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.