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Brennan touts local development

At a press conference this afternoon, flanked by local economic bigwigs and creative economy gurus, Mayor Michael Brennan announced the roll-out of the economic development plan he touted on the campaign trail. The major initiatives are derived from the city's Economic Development Vision and Plan, which was adopted by the city council last year. That document recommended:

  • Developing a business visitation program to better understand what helps and hinders local businesses;
  • Increasing collaboration and coordination among members of the creative economy;
  • Streamlining interactions (inquiries, permitting, inspection, zoning, etc.) between businesses and city departments.

Brennan highlighted the business visitation program as a "key component" of the economic development strategy, and noted that the first such meeting was held this month (between the city and Intermed, where the press conference was held). He set the goal of accomplishing one of these visits per week, or at least two per month. 

Finding out what local businesses need to grow, prosper, and create more jobs is more effective than spending a ton of effort trying to attract businesses from out-of-state, Brennan said. While the economic development team isn't abandoning that strategy, they acknowledged that it was more expensive and often less successful than focusing on homegrown talent.

And don't worry, this isn't one of those plans that leads to a report that suggests a new plan -- Brennan stressed that he wants immediate action. "What we're talking about is how we do better tomorrow, next week, next month," he said.

To that end, Portland has secured the services of Jared Clark, of the Massachusetts-based Government Consulting Group; he will work with the city manager and city economic development director to review and change the development, permitting, and inspections processes in the city, with the goal of establishing "the most timely process in the state of Maine," according to Brennan.

Brennan went on to outline several funding sources for businesses that encourage job-creation, creative endeavors, development in underserved neighborhoods, and private investment - including the Facade Improvement Program, the Portland Economic Development Plan Implementation Programs, the Business Assistance Program for Job Creation, and the city's Revolving Loan Program. Visit the city's website for more info.

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