MEREDA's annual Spring Conference, attracted more than 300 from the real estate, business and government sectors to discuss the topic of "50th to 1st: Ingredients of a Successful Economic Development Plan,” inspired by Maine's ranking by Forbes Magazine for the past four years as the worst state in which to do business.
With the next round of rankings to be released in September 2014, the discussion was timely. MEREDA brought in speaker, venture capitalist, Utah businessman, and, founder of Grow America, Alan Hall, to explain how Utah succeeds as a high growth economy, ranking as the top state in which to do business three years in a row in the same Forbes survey.
According to Hall, those critical components are part of a shared vision, where everyone works together to create a place where businesses can flourish with government regulations that are stable and predictable. Hall further explained that it takes more than a business friendly environment to attract new business, however, it takes an educated workforce, a lower cost of doing business in terms of land, energy, water, transportation and communications, and cooperative financial institutions providing easy access to capital. In addition, he stressed the need for continued innovation, revenue growth and targeted anchor industries, all together with a strong quality of life, as keys to economic health.
In addition to the keynote, Maine's strengths and opportunities were examined against these best practices. Andrea Cianchette Maker, public policy counsel to MEREDA and attorney with Pierce Atwood, LLP, facilitated a discussion with six Maine leaders representing a variety of industry sectors including economic development, education, finance, international trade, manufacturing and real estate development.
To learn more about Alan Hall's presentation and the outcomes of the forum discussions, please review the event recaps by some of our local media including the Portland Press Herald, and Bangor Daily News. Hall's full presentation is available for download here.
Six Developers Recognized for Best Practices
Also at the Spring Conference, MEREDA recognized last year's most notable commercial development projects that not only embody MEREDA's belief in responsible development, but also involved a significant investment of resources and job creation state-wide. Six developers were celebrated for their responsible practices including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact and job creation.
MaineGeneral Medical Center was commended for the new $312 million Alfond Center for Health. While consolidating its operations into a state of the art new facility and renovating the Thayer Campus into the state's largest and most comprehensive outpatient center, these projects were completed ahead of schedule and under budget while being built to the new 2010 LEED Healthcare standards.
The City of Bangor won for its Cross Insurance Center, an 8,000 capacity arena that converts into a column-free exhibit hall with attached convention space including a grand ballroom and 11 meeting rooms totaling to 52,840 sq. ft. of meeting space. With direct and indirect economic impacts in the millions of dollars annually, the Center is a critical social and economic asset for the area, showcasing the region as a top tier event destination for Northern New England and Atlantic Canadian markets.
Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority was recognized for the new Mönlycke Health Care project, a $50 million built-to-suit manufacturing facility for the Mölnlycke Health Care, a world leading manufacturer of single-use surgical and wound care products and services for the professional health care sector. Funded through the new market tax credit program, the building boasts sate of the art systems with a focus on the highest level of energy efficiency.
Rockbridge was recognized for its new Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, a restored landmark hotel in the heart of Portland's arts district. This $50 million project involved stripping down the "grand dame" to its "bones and restoring it with an eye toward preserving the historical integrity of the hotel and its façade, while updating it for the most discriminating travelers.
Northland Enterprises received an award for the Sanford Mill Historic Renovation, which renovated 66,000 square foot former textile mill into 22,000 square feet of commercial office/retail space and 36 residential apartments. This $11.5 million public / private partnership utilized historic tax credits in order to preserve the twentieth century architectural features to complement the modern day amenities like a gym, library and outdoor patio for the tenants.
IDEXX Laboratories won for its new Synergy Center at its World Campus in Westbrook. This $29.5 million project boasts a 107,700 s/f, three-story certified LEED corporate administrative facility, all designed to improve the employee experience - dedicated to creating an environment that fosters health, wellness, innovation and personal creativity.
MEREDA is proud to recognize projects of this caliber; each represents new jobs, investments in Maine contractors and businesses, as well as growth, evidence that Maine's economy is moving in the right direction. To read more about each of the projects, please click here.