The Town of Gorham is the latest municipality in Maine to join the Maine Downtown Network, a program that uses a proven economic development approach to downtown revitalization. Maine Downtown Center Program Director Anne Ball announced Gorham’s acceptance into the program at a “Toast to Main Street” event in Westbrook on November 9.
“We are thrilled to have Gorham as part of the Maine Downtown Network program. During our visit to Gorham, our site visit team was particularly impressed by the diverse group of stakeholders that are enthusiastic and willing to support the long-term efforts to revitalize Gorham Village. It was clear that the municipality, local businesses and organizations and residents are all at the table and ready to work together,” said Ball.
The Maine Downtown Center, a program run by the Maine Development Foundation in Augusta, is the state coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program. The program follows a specific approach to downtown revitalization that is currently used in more than 2,200 communities in 44 states.
Taking an organized approach to implementing changes in Gorham Village has been researched and discussed by Town officials and the Gorham Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) for several years. To that end, both the recently updated Main St. Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan include a recommendation to participate in one of the Maine Downtown Center programs.
Earlier this year, several GEDC members formed the Gorham Village Alliance (GVA) to complete an application to become a Downtown Network community and lead the initiative. The GVA Organization Committee consists of volunteers representing business, residential, community and municipal interests.
“With new businesses and development attracting more and more people to the Village, the time is right to take a more structured approach to improving the Village and realizing its full potential as a vibrant downtown center. As a Downtown Network community, we’ll have access to resources, training and ideas to build on what we already have,” said Kathy Garrard, GEDC Board member and GVA Co-Chair.
Downtown revitalization through the Downtown Network program is a community-led, community driven, and inclusive effort. “Gorham has a great deal of community pride and spirit and people want a welcoming downtown area where they can support local businesses and attend events. There are many ways interested Gorham residents and businesses can participate in this initiative, either by joining one of the four committees – Organization, Design, Promotion, Economic Vitality – or by volunteering to assist with a specific project,” said Dede Perkins, GVA Co-Chair. “GVA will be reaching out to businesses and residents over the next few months to provide information about this effort and recruit volunteers.”
Gorham will have Downtown Network community status for 2018 and 2019. At the end of the two years, the Town has the option of remaining a Downtown Network community, applying to become a Main Street Maine community, or leaving the program altogether.
To volunteer or learn more about the Gorham Village Alliance call/text 207-233-2373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.