June 18, 2018
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Three midcoast organizations honored for bringing vitality to their communities

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

CAMDEN, Maine — A grassroots group intent on bringing vitality and progress to the midcoast region has recognized three organizations it says are doing just that.

Friends of Midcoast Maine will bestow its 2012 Smart Growth Awards next week at its annual meeting to the Twin Villages Downtown Alliance in Damariscotta and Newcastle, Coastal Farms & Food in Belfast and a downtown Rockland effort called Building and Business FourTwelve.

Jane Lafleur, executive director of Friends of Midcoast Maine, said the organization has made a tradition for the past 12 years of “recognizing efforts that are in keeping with building stronger communities in the midcoast.”

“We want to recognize exciting new initiatives that are happening in the midcoast communities which are in keeping with the principals we are in favor of: stronger downtowns, economic development and jobs,” said Lafleur on Thursday. “We want to make our communities stronger and it’s not just one initiative that makes that happen. It takes a lot of people to make that happen.”

Building and Business FourTwelve is being recognized for purchasing a building in downtown Rockland and filling it with mixed-use development, including a clothing boutique, a clothing manufacturer and a residence.

“It’s a great example of how we can invest in our downtowns and have multiple uses going on in one building that all contribute to sustainability, resilience of a downtown and all kinds of life on a street,” said Lafleur.

The Twin Villages Downtown Alliance in Damariscotta and Newcastle was formed less than a year ago to act as a liaison between businesses, community leaders and downtown residents in the two villages.

“This award is for really being a positive voice for collaboration, communication and the shopkeepers,” said Lafleur. “It’s about finding ways to say ‘yes’ to new initiatives in downtowns. It’s a great example of how businesses, nonprofits and governments can work together.”

Coastal Farms and Food in Belfast steps in for farmers and other food processors after the harvest is complete, said Lafleur. The business allows farmers to process, freeze and package products.

“This is such a great initiative with a tie-in to other industries in the Belfast area,” said Lafleur. “It’s an economic development piece that makes good sense for the community.”

Friends of Midcoast Maine formed 12 years ago to work with 21 coastal communities between Brunswick and Bucksport. Though the organization focuses on helping communities with planning, growth issues, economic development and engagements between government entities and the public, it only does so when asked, said Lafleur.

“The community is the expert and the communities know best what works for them,” said Lafleur. “We really believe in the communities being the experts.”

The group’s annual meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in Rockland, though preregistration is required by visiting www.friendsmidcoast.org or calling 236-1077. The keynote speaker at the event will be Joe Minicozzi, who will present a talk titled “The Smart Math of Mixed Use Development.” The presentation will focus on the numbers behind how different kinds of development produce different payoffs for communities.

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