Quality of Place - It’s no secret that I believe strongly that Economic and Community Development are intertwined at all levels. The key things that businesses look for when considering relocation or a new venture are infrastructure and quality of place.
Infrastructure can even include the human capital available in a region.
While the initial review during site selection is driven by numbers and availability, the final determination by an organization is often based on quality of place and their emotional connection to a region. In the Augusta region, we are working hard to improve our attractiveness when it comes to infrastructure and marketing our available spaces. But what are we doing to improve our quality of place? Several downtown organizations are doing a fantastic job revitalizing their individual downtown regions, but we have much more available to us in the greater Kennebec Valley.
When you look at the Lewiston/Auburn renaissance that has taken place over the last 10 -20 years, much of it can be attributed to the cultural shift that advertised L/A as a fun place to live. There has been an intentional effort to foster a “quality of place.” Much of this effort has been driven by a group called L/A Arts. Although they have been in existence for over 30 years, it was a rejuvenation of efforts in the mid 90’s that began to make a difference. According to their website, L/A Arts is driven by the following mission statement. “L/A Arts’ agenda has always been to promote the power of the arts, use its credentials to stimulate economic revival, maintain a diversity of programming in our community and realize a high quality of life for all within the community.”
The Kennebec Valley desperately needs this kind of organization, pooling the resources of the vast array of performing and visual arts that we have available to us, promoting the cultural aspects of our region and shining a light on the fantastic things happening here. We need to have performances, cultural magazines and events that are well publicized throughout the region and beyond. This will not only attract families and businesses, but it will attract professionals, the human capital that makes an area stand out when a business is searching for a home. It will also dramatically reduce the turnover in the professional field that we face here.
While this is not something the Kennebec Valley Chamber can assume as part of our mission, we certainly can look to get some of the key players together to discuss options. If you have an interest in the arts in the Kennebec Valley, please call me and we will ensure you are included in the next step. Every journey starts with a single step, let’s work together to take the first step down this road.
Your KVCC Board met on Tuesday evening. I continue to be impressed by the enthusiasm and energy on this board. A great group of leaders with a strong vision as to how this chamber can best serve this region.
What a great turnout for our Women’s network luncheon on Wednesday. Stacy Gervais did an outstanding job. Visit Stacey’s Hallmark in downtown Augusta to get her fashion advice in person!
This past Thursday was Hallowell Day for me. I visited 13 businesses and thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the folks there. Check out the photos on our FB page.