North Yarmouth seeks economic development consultant

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Wanting to promote itself as ready for careful economic growth, the town is seeking an independent contractor for economic development management and consulting services.

Responses to a request for proposals and cost estimates for services, which can be viewed at northyarmouth.org, are due by 3 p.m. March 1. The documents are also available by emailing Administrative Assistant Ashley Roan at aroan@northyarmouth.org.

Patrick Gilligan, chairman of the town’s Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, said in an interview Jan. 31 that an area of about 200 acres within the Village Center has been identified for potential tax increment financing, noting that a goal of his group is to focus residential and commercial growth within a localized area of town.

The Village Center has been eyed as opposed to the open, rural landscape elsewhere in North Yarmouth. Of the approximately 200 acres in the center, about 130-140 are undeveloped and largely for sale, Gilligan said.

“From an economic standpoint, North Yarmouth does not really have too many incentives in the way of promoting or encouraging development,” he noted. “So by establishing a TIF, the whole goal is to generate buzz and interest from developers who … are familiar with TIFs and how they work.”

Gilligan said his panel is not trying to attract large, box-type, commercial buildings, but is looking at operations like a restaurant or brewery, as well as senior housing. One developer mentioned building a commercial development combined with elderly or workforce housing.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the look or landscape of North Yarmouth at all; we’re just trying to promote the growth in our town to a centralized area,” Gilligan said.

Broadening North Yarmouth’s commercial sector, and taking some pressure off the town’s almost entirely residential base, would help taxpayers shoulder the burden with major project payments, such as the Greely Center for the Arts, on the horizon.

Booming business at the Purple House and Stone’s Cafe shows North Yarmouth’s potential economic viability, Gilligan said.

“It’s not just residents of North Yarmouth; it’s bikers and runners, and people coming from Portland to explore new places,” he said.

Gilligan said he hopes the economic development consultant will “come in and put a vision in place, and promote that idea to other developers,” and “digest all the interests and desires that our townsfolk have, to present a viable, livable, enjoyable destination for the residents as well as visitors.”

The consultant would work in a part-time capacity, at least into fiscal year 2019.

“We’re not at the stage of needing a full-time economic developer within our town, nor do I think we would need one long term,” Gilligan said. “I think it’s just someone to come in and guide us and promote us, to get our feet squared on the ground and off running.”

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

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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.