AUBURN — City economic development and marketing can do a better job of selling the city’s assets to potential developers, councilors said Monday.

Councilors said they were behind a to-do list and work plan for city staff, which was presented by City Manager Clinton Deschene during Monday’s workshop meeting.

Front and center in that work plan is a need to develop a marketing plan specifically geared toward selling Auburn’s assets, Deschene said. It does not mean the city needs to ignore regional development but needs to do a better job of identifying what it has.

“A potential weak point that has been taken advantage of in the area is that we are not as organized, maybe, as some of the others,” Deschene said. “I think it has been exploited, and it’s time for us to get very unified in our voice and in what our objectives are. That’s what this is all about.”

Steps in that work plan would include reviewing past economic development successes and failures, including the city’s foreign trade zone, industrial parks and transportation plans.

Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said it was time the city began trying to promote the foreign trade zone, which allows foreign manufacturers to assemble and store their goods in Auburn, duty free. LaBonte noted that the city has had the federal status for close to a decade, but it has never been used.

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“Maybe we are not hitting the streets the way we should be, engaging our manufacturers and the organizations that are doing trade,” LaBonte said. “Maybe we need to look at how we allocate resources so we can have someone knocking on the door, engaging business to see how it can help.”

Councilor Tizz Crowley said she hoped the city’s efforts would focus on small business development, as well.

Councilors like most of the other items on Deschene’s list. The eight-item list includes projects that are already under way, including opening a twin-rink ice arena this year, working toward a public vote on building a new high school and adopting a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Another item calls for hosting neighborhood meetings with residents around the city this summer to encourage them to be more involved in city business and decisions engendering safe work environments for city staff.

Deschene said these two factors work together.

Ward meetings have been scheduled to discuss health and safety concerns in each part of the city.

Other items on the work plan are developing a better orientation program for new city councilors and getting financial reports, labor negotiation updates and policy discussions to councilors in a more timely manner.

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