Portland-area business attraction group awarded $375,000

Posted Aug. 31, 2011, at 2:23 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Greater Portland Public Development Commission announced Wednesday it has awarded a multi-year grant of $375,000 to the Greater Portland Economic Development Corp., an organization focused on the creation and retention of businesses and jobs in the area.

The Greater Portland Economic Development Corp., or GPEDC, is described in a city news release as a public-private partnership serving the communities of Portland, South Portland, Scarborough, Westbrook, Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth. The organization is in the process of developing a plan to attract and retain businesses in the region “through marketing, work force development and links with institutions of higher learning,” the city announced.

“The commission firmly believes that the Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation is the best vehicle to spur economic growth in Greater Portland,” said Joan Cohen, chairwoman of the commission, in a statement. “We believe that funding the efforts of the GPEDC is the highest and best long-term investment of our funds.”

The commission is a state agency that was formed after World War II initially funded by the sale of South Portland properties formerly used to manufacture Liberty Ships during the war effort. Those proceeds, as well as locally raised funds, have been kept by the commission and reinvested into the Portland area business community in the form of market promotion, or capital for startups or expansions.

“A critical element of the corporation is to provide business growth services that are complementary to other organizations, like the Portland Regional Chamber, to strengthen the region’s economic and innovative capabilities and opportunities,” said Erik Carson, economic development director for the city of South Portland, and a corporation board member.

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