EnterpriseMaine tweaking strategic plan

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PARIS – EnterpriseMaine is tweaking a revamped strategic plan that will focus the organization on a few high-profile development projects rather than having a hand in many different projects, Len Bartel, vice president of development, said Wednesday.

“We’re going to pare down what’s on our plate and focus on fewer projects with greater mission impact,” Bartel said. “I think what happens a lot with non-profit organizations in general is you take on too much, and your impact of what you’re trying to accomplish is somewhat diluted.”

The new strategic plan is in draft form and the 16-member board has yet to put their “stamp of approval” on it, Bartel said.

But Brett Doney, president and chief executive officer, has begun presenting the plan to stakeholders. They include donors and loan clients as well as selectmen, budget committees and town economic development committees.

EnterpriseMaine began revamping the plan in February at a board retreat, prior to staff cutbacks in March. Doney said last month the cutbacks were necessary due to a loss of $150,000 per year in rent after a tenant did not renew its lease at EnterpriseMaine’s Bridgton Commerce Center on Route 302.

Barb Olson Deschenes, who served as vice president of the Oxford Hills Growth Council, and Bob Shinners, vice president of lending, left last month. Bartel said a new tenant for the Commerce Center has not surfaced.

EnterpriseMaine’s budget is roughly $1.8 million. Bartel said the budget will probably be slightly less in fiscal 2007 due to the staff cutbacks.

He said if stakeholders take issue with parts of the new strategic plan, it can be continually developed. “It’s an organic document. It can always be changed and adapted,” he said. “If there are things that (stakeholders) want us to focus on that are different, we can take that back to the board.”

EnterpriseMaine is the umbrella name for three nonprofits and one for-profit entity dedicated to economic development in the Oxford Hills region.

The nonprofits are the growth council, Western Maine Finance and Western Maine Development. The for-profit entity is Western Maine Community Capital, which was created as a subsidiary of Western Maine Finance.

Another nonprofit, the Lake Region Development Council, is managed by EnterpriseMaine under contract.

Bartel said projects that will continue to receive focus include a proposed Norway tech park, luring businesses to the Oxford Hills Business Park on Route 26 where construction of Norway Savings Bank’s Education Center is delayed due to drainage concerns, and efforts to secure state funds to repair badly-deteriorating sections of Route 26. “Those are the big ones,” he said.

Other projects could include real estate development where EnterpriseMaine buys land and fixes it to lure a developer, similar to the sale of the C.B. Cummings & Sons mill site, Bartel said.

EnterpriseMaine sold the site last fall to Norway Properties Inc., which is owned in part by the Libra Foundation of Portland. The 4.6-acre property was purchased for $300,000 and is being redeveloped for condominiums.

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