Vol. 1, Issue 2                                                          Oct. 20, 2016

    CARIBOU — Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) is branching out into the world of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) thanks to an investment by the U.S. Treasury Department.
    The NMDC Executive Board, at its most recent meeting Thursday, Oct. 13, was informed of the nearly $125,000 award from the CDFI Fund to allow NMDC to work toward CDFI certification within the next 18 months, which will allow the commission to increase lending and investment activity in low-income and economically distressed communities in Aroostook and Washington counties.
    CDFIs are private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. By financing community businesses—including small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate, and affordable housing—CDFIs spark job growth and retention in hard-to serve markets across the nation.
    “NMDC already has an active lending division, CDFI designation will allow for additional investment in the region to help start new businesses and grow jobs,” said Robert Clark, NMDC Executive Director.
    Also at the board meeting, members ratified service contracts with Limestone, Patten and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC). NMDC staff will provide an ordinance update for Limestone and a comprehensive plan for Patten. The NBRC contract is for grant administration for an award to the Northern Maine Regional Airport.
    Executive Board members also appointed three county residents to the Brownfields committee and the Aroostook County Tourism board. Dona Saucier, the Greater Fort Kent Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, was appointed to the ACT board. Frenchville Town Manager Ryan Pelletier and Mars Hill Town Manager Dave Cyr were named to the Brownfields committee.
    Board members also approved a noon meeting time for the December and February meetings, to be   held on Dec. 8 and Feb. 9.
    Prior to the meeting, the board recognized long-time member Patricia Sutherland for receiving the Ethel Kelley Memorial Award from the Maine Municipal Association. Sutherland, the Chapman Select Board Chair, received the award on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the MMA annual convention. The award is given to one dedicated to the cause of good local government and conscientiously serving for 20 or more years.
    Daniel and Vanessa Clark stand in front of Clark's Variety in Littleton, which they purchased with assistance from the NMDC Business Finance Division.
   LINNEUS — A Houlton couple can now add business owners to their resumes after recently purchasing a Linneus convenience store. Clark’s Variety Inc., formerly known as Peg’s Place, is now owned by Daniel and Vanessa Clark.
   Located on US Route 2A, this popular and well known convenience store is located at the Four Corners in Linneus, not far from the well-known Grammy’s Restaurant.
   Daniel and Vanessa combined have more than two decades of experience managing various businesses in retail, service and the grocery industry.
   “I am excited because this opportunity enables us to give back to the community, as well as create a future for our kids where they can learn and work in the store as they grow older and potentially carry on the family business one day,” said Daniel Clark. “The store is essential for the area as this is the only gas station/convenience store for approximately 10 miles. The store is also a local hangout where customers congregate in the morning, talking about the latest news and gossip, as well as have their breakfast on a daily basis.”
   Northern Maine Development Commission provided small business counseling to the couple prior to purchase and  was essential in securing financing according to Clark.
   Clark added improvements are being made at the store, including new menu items, and a different pizza crust and sauce. He anticipates also hiring two part-time workers in the near future.
   To introduce the new Clark’s Variety to the public, grand opening specials will be offered starting Saturday, Oct. 29 through Friday, Nov. 4. Also customers who like and share their Facebook page will be entered into a drawing for free pizza.  
   For more information about free small business counseling and small business loans, contact Josh Nadeau, Small Business Development Center Director at NMDC at 493-5754 or by email at jnadeau@nmdc.org.   
NMDC has created a document to help answer some of the most commonly asked questions about code enforcement training and certification. The purpose of the training and certification program is to build and strengthen local capacity to administer and enforce new and existing ordinances. As a result of this emphasis, code enforcement has become more uniform across the State, to the benefit of municipalities and their residents. Coordinated management and administration of local ordinances and state statutes helps reduce municipal liability associated with enforcement.

To view the Q and A document, click here.
    AROOSTOOK COUNTY — The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) and Maine Association of Planners (MAP) are praising the Community Guided Planning and Zoning (CGPZ) initiative, which has resulted in a new Rural Business Development Zone in selected Unorganized Townships in Aroostook County.
   MAP has named the Rural Business Development Zone, a joint effort of the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) and Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC), project of the year.
   The first collaborative planning effort for the LUPC’s new CGPZ program created a new development subdistrict in the unorganized area of Aroostook County.  The zone encourages creation of new, and growth of existing, rural businesses in Aroostook County and is available to applicants through a streamlined re-zoning process. The planning group determined where the new zone should be available, and developed a performance-based approach to categorizing and locating different scales and types of rural businesses within the zone, which provides additional flexibility for business owners.
   NMDC also received a NADO Innovation Award for the CGPZ effort. The Innovation Award honors significant advances in community and economic development, including but not limited to small business finance, energy and infrastructure projects, housing and human services, sustainable development, workforce development, and more.
   In Aroostook County, NMDC staff and a citizen steering committee worked with the LUPC to develop new zoning opportunities and improve the business climate in the county.
   “Thanks to the hard work of the Steering Committee the creation of a D-RB zone was designed to help encourage a range of small businesses in Unorganized Townships while helping to maintaining rural character and avoiding significant impacts,” said NMDC Senior Planner Jay Kamm, who facilitated the CGPZ process.
   The Steering Committee was comprised of 15 members made up of residents, businesses, government officials, and environmental groups that had ties to Aroostook County’s Unorganized Townships. They met monthly for nearly two years to develop the product which was submitted to the LUPC Commissioners.
   “NMDC’s involvement in the CGPZ project was the result of recognizing the potential the Unorganized Territories in Aroostook County can bring to economic and community development by utilizing our regional assets such as forestry and tourism,” said NMDC Executive Director Robert Clark.
   NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s regional development organizations. The association and its members promote regional strategies, partnerships, and solutions to strengthen the economic competitiveness and quality of life across America’s local communities.
   MAP, is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization of over 100 members, including professional public, private, and nonprofit planners, citizen volunteers serving on local boards, and Mainers from other professions like attorneys, landscape architects, professors, and developers. Though our membership works in diverse settings, we are all dedicated to enhancing the practice of planning in Maine.
   More information on the CGPZ effort can be found at www.nmdc.org/planning/CGPZ.html.

    Receiving the award from the Maine Association of Planners, from left, are:
Robert Clark, Northern Maine Development Commission Executive Director; Paul Underwood, Aroostook County and LUPC Commissioner; Mark Draper, Chair of the Citizen Steering Committee for the project; Nick Livesay, Executive Director of the LUPC; and Jay Kamm, Senior Planner at NMDC. 
This electronic newsletter replaces a printed version, which was distributed by mail for the past four years. Please forward this on to interested parties, municipal officials and others who may wish to be kept apprised of planning and economic development activities of Northern Maine Development Commission. Please feel free to provide comments and suggestions to Jon Gulliver, Director of Investor and Community Relations at jgulliver@nmdc.org.
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