Eastport Economic Development Forum

Notes from the July 30th Meeting / Invitation to July 30th Meeting / Agenda of June 30th Meeting / Discussion Paper / Meeting of June 9th / Meeting of June 4th, 1997 / Meeting of May 28th, 1997

Notes from the July 30th Meeting

This is the notes from the big sheets of paper on the easel that the facilitator was writing on and the notes taken by Eastport City Manager George Finch and Director Dianne Tilton of the Sunrise County Economic Council. Your typist especially hopes everyone who attended will advise the typist of inaccuracies in putting down thoughts in these notes so that they can be revised accordingly. Please see the meeting results at the end of this page for what may be expected to happen next.

Community Cooperation & Tourism
  • Externally - Maine as a whole - What's Happening?
  • Transportation Weaknesses?
  • What happens Bar Harbor to Eastport? The [Department of Transportation?] [is planning for] Nova Scotia to be linked to Maine at Bar Harbor. High speed ferries have been suggested to bring people up the coast to Bar Harbor. There has been no suggestion that these ferries should run to Eastport to bring people further up the coast. This plan should be altered and expanded to redistribute tourists to Washington County rather than divert them from it.
  • What's happening [already] in Washington County? What do we already have?
  • Marketing was repeatedly emphasized as critical. Especially finding markets that fit what we have to offer. We need to promote general information about the area and market to airport, boat and road traffic. There are opportunities for marketing tourism in marine resources, Elder Hostel groups and bus tours.
  • We need to inventory information on the area so we can market what we have.
  • How much and what kind of development should be encouraged in this area.
  • A resource person: Charles Colgan of the Muskie Institute at the University of Southern Maine.
  • Day Trips from Bangor and St. John?
  • Environmentally driven tourism or Eco-Tourism as important.
  • The organization factor is extremely important in order to meet a market niche.
  • How do people get to the state and to Washington County now?
  • For each type of Tourism there is a type of Marketing. Types might include destination, seasonal, day trip, "eco", cultural, and repeat tourism.
  • What can we do for the tourists who are already here so they will want to come back and will recommend us.
  • Marketing to "fly-in" visitors from Boston, etc. Packages for them?
  • Elder Hostel was very successful. We need a program.
Education & Youth
  • Maine Rural Development - August 7th meeting at University of Maine at Machias on "Making a Living in Washington County".
  • High school education is important and has failed the young people who need it most. We have heard about the problems. Now we need to solve them.
  • Teaching how our economy works. Economic literacy programs are needed for both young people and as an adult education program.
  • Ask the youth what they need.
  • What are we doing to address education in the economic sectors already present and functioning here.
  • Stable home? [Many problems are family oriented. What can we do to promote a better environment for families to stabilize themselves?]
  • Learning results implementation.
  • Academic standards / performance standards are needed.
  • What should curriculum content be?
  • We need broad involvement.
  • We need more stress on the ability to organize and present information.
  • We should promote job shadowing.
  • Youth & adult "area of interest" education.
  • Three day courses [for visitors, Elder Hostel, etc.]
  • Marine Trades Center
  • While educational issues are national, the solutions must be local.
  • We must have a local economy which allows youths to stay if they wish.
Infrastructure & Transportation
  • Sewer, water & electric all have problems that need to be addressed already. Wright-Pierce has been hired to address sewer issues.
  • What does it make sense to do.
  • Transportation system a priority. Without the roads tough to get development.
  • A great port is being built but the land access is poor.
  • Calais to Brewer rail line?
  • Calais to Eastport rail line?
  • Highway proposals from the group included: A four lane coastal highway by adding two lanes parallel to the existing highway. A two lane highway with passing lanes on hills. A two lane highway with better shoulders or breakdown lanes on sides. It was generally conceded that a four lane highway was not possible to sell to the state.
  • Downeast Route 1 Corridor Committee.
  • Route 9 Corridor Committee.
  • Point out the needs of the Port. It is the second deepest port in the United States.
  • Rail Committee. We must link all the way to Albany, New York.
  • We must supply the vision locally or none of these projects will get done.
  • In infrastructure, if you look at just yourself you lose the assets around you.
  • We must market to the whole area.
  • We must kick NYNEX hard on communications, providing the relevant business reasons and doing so in a public manner.
  • In fiberoptic communications redundant routes are important if you wish to attract communications dependent businesses.
  • Airport: There were no representatives of the Airport Advisory Committee present. However the following points were raised:
  • The airport is a big resource of the city. We must learn to market and utilize it.
  • It was suggested that as the best airport in Washington County and the only one with fuel it might be possible to locate an aircraft maintenance and repair business there which would not only provide jobs but also attract pilots and their families to Eastport. The point was made in the meeting that the nearest full fledged maintenance outfit is in Bar Harbor. (However an Airport Advisory Committee member has suggested since the meeting that it should be borne in mind that there are a few mechanics servicing aircraft on an "out of the truck" basis in Washington County. So such a business could not count on getting all the business by any means.)
  • A UPS or FedEx facility was suggested as a possibility to service Washington County better.
  • Aircraft painting was mentioned as a possibility that a local business is prepared to expand into if a building were available at the airport to do it in.
  • The possibility of locating a kit plane manufacturer here was mentioned. The point was made that most kit plane manufacturers are located in small towns that happen to have really good airports.
  • The point was raised that perhaps a "spec" building at the airport, capable of housing some of the above businesses, should be built to attract them.
  • There was some discussion as to whether the Port Authority should take over responsibility for the airport. The Port Director suggested that there was so much to be done regarding the Port and transport to it that it would be better for the airport to keep a separate governing body.
  • It was pointed out that the present Airport Advisory Committee had done such a good job that any plans for the airport would be best if they were endorsed and supported by them.
  • It was emphasized that the airport needed a strong advocate
  • (Subsequent conversation with an Advisory Committee member developed the additional suggestions that rental cars and other increased facilities to welcome pilots might well increase traffic and visits to the City dramatically over time.)
  • Trolley Bus tours were suggested as a business which might be well received in the summer months and provide an additional useful business for Eastport.
  • We should try to learn what the traffic into Eastport is now.
  • Copies of the 1979 Waterfront Development Plan should be located and examined for possible revisions and implementation.
  • It was pointed out that the City is responsible for the Inner Basin and yacht traffic, not the Port Authority. If yacht traffic, charter yachts & moderate sized passenger carrying vessels are to be attracted there must be some group in charge of this development.
Marine Resources & Environment
  • Clam Acreage has increased by 500 acres.
  • Carrying Place Cove has been producing $10,000 per month since December.
  • Different marketing efforts for clams are needed.
  • Market research.
  • Local Clams in local restaurants.
  • The next problem: Scallops & Urchins
  • The scallop season opens later in the rest of the state because of the gear conflict with lobstermen.
  • This means that very large numbers of boats come to Eastport when the season opens and clean out the resource within 3 to 7 days. This has not been solved yet.
  • Progress has been made in that drags have been restricted to 5' wide and 3 rings deep in the Cobscook Bay area.
  • There has been some increase in lobstering.
  • Ground fish stocks remain a problem.
  • There is hand lining for cod in very small numbers.
  • Aquaculture: Small companies have been going out. The Chilean price problem remains.
  • We should be processing fish locally and making sure we are promoting local consumption as much as possible as well.
  • We should pursue Cobscook Bay "branding" and water certification.
  • The distribution system needs to be refined to distribute locally.
  • We need the legal structure in place to allow fishermen to act on their environmental ethic.
  • We need to stabilize supply.
  • There must be direct local involvement in resource management decisions. Bottom up management is the best way to protect the resources.
  • What can we expect from these resources?
  • We must concern ourselves with both private aquaculture such as the fish farms and public aquaculture such as using seeding and hatchery programs to increase stocks for conventional harvesting.
  • Yacht Traffic & Moorage: It was proposed that studies should be done for inexpensive floating breakwater systems which would allow the downtown to have protected moorings and protected areas for docks and marinas to develop. Further Coves around the island could be made into ideal harbors for yacht and commercial moorings, etc. with floating breakwaters added.
Small Business
  • Suppression of Growth Through High Interest Rates - Economists tell us that raising interest rates reduces growth and lowering interest rates increases growth. We know that Washington County has the highest interest rates in the state and more than twice the unemployment rate of the rest of the state. We understand the reasons that the banks by themselves cannot lower interest rates even as they acknowledge the present rates are destabilizing businesses. Until local, State and federal efforts reduce interest rates we are trying to run a car with a foot on the gas and a foot on the break. When State or federal backed loans would be available at a lower interest rate, if the business did not already have financing, Washington County businesses should be allowed to refinance at the lower rate.
  • Community Based Lending - The regular banking system cannot meet the needs of Eastport and Washington County as a whole we need more revolving loan programs, credit groups, and other local programs.
  • Youth & Adult Economic Literacy - Courses in how our economy works and how to profit by it are virtually non-existent for both adults and young people. Entrepreneurship courses offered an hour to an hour and a half away at minimum are not even heard about let alone practical for working people to attend. These programs should be community based. The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship got its start translating the principles taught in the Harvard Master of Business Administration graduate program to be taught with great success to inner city disadvantaged high school students in remedial math classes. A program similar to NFTE should be in every high school in Washington County.
  • The state does not have the tools in place to develop small businesses. The state is much more interested in businesses large enough so that the loss of one of them can devastate a community.
  • We also need to find the existing businesses that have managed to survive despite these problems find out more about how they have done it and what they need to expand further.
  • We need to identify products and services being bought from other areas which could be supplied here.
  • We need a database of businesses that Eastport needs so that they can be suggested to local people who want to start a business or to people who wish to move here to start a business. It was suggested that there is an increasing market for handyman, yard work and landscaping services.
  • Opportunities should be explored for using local resources to form "virtual companies" to develop and market products that no one business is large enough to undertake.

Results of the July 30th Meeting

The meeting agreed to divide into five subgroups chaired by people with expertise in each area. This groups are to meet as much as they wish and consult with whomever they wish. The groups will be polled by the Forum's typist (Thomas A. MacNaughton) on or about August 15th for progress reports. On the basis of the progress reports and in consultation with the chairpersons of the subgroups the typist will then set a time for the next full Forum meeting.

The chairpersons are:

Joyce Weber Community Cooperation & Tourism
Tom Duyme Education & Youth
Jonathan Daniels Transportation & Infrastructure
Will Hopkins Marine Resources & Environment
Thomas MacNaughton Small Business

Each group is charged to develop possible strategies over a five to ten year horizon to meet the perceived needs in their respective areas. These will be divided into what can be handled locally and what we need to push up the line to the state and federal levels.

The next full meeting of the Forum will explore what strategies are best handled by existing community groups and which require a new structure to be established.

To Meeting of June 24th (the Discussion Paper) / Meeting of June 9th / Wednesday June 4th Meeting / Wednesday May 28th Meeting Notes

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