ELLSWORTH, Maine — City Council members voted Monday to contract with two economic development consulting firms to create a program aimed at attracting new businesses to the growing city.
The council also selected longtime Ellsworth firefighter Richard Tupper to become the city’s next fire chief.
Under the agreement approved Monday, the Eaton Peabody Consulting Group and the CWS Consulting Group will work with city officials and representatives of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to design and implement a program to woo new businesses to the area.
City Manager Michelle Beal said Monday what while the recession has had an impact on the city, Ellsworth has been more fortunate than other Maine municipalities.
“Ellsworth has been very lucky,” Beal said. “We have had some new development. And most of our Main Street is still full.”
Nonetheless, Beal added, city officials recognize that Ellsworth will need to continue to expand its business base in order to keep pace with rising municipal costs and to maintain a lower mill rate.
The year-long business attraction program, which will cost the city up to $70,000, will include development of a “new business pitch sheet” as well as outreach to prospective businesses. The consulting firms will focus on businesses in financial services and health care — two sectors already top priorities for the city — as well as a third sector.
Council Chairman Gary Fortier pointed out that the price tag for the consulting contract will be cheaper than the cost of filling the now-vacant economic development director position.
Instead, Fortier said, the city will spend the next year working with the consulting firms to establish goals and hone the city’s economic development strategies and then hire a director to help implement the plan.
In other news, the council unanimously approved the nomination of Tupper as the new fire chief.
Tupper, who began volunteering with the department in 1985, has been a staff member since 1989 and was named deputy chief since 2006. He replaces Jon Marshall, who retired earlier this month after a 40-year career with the department.
Tupper was selected from a pool of 56 applicants for the fire chief job.