LEWISTON — Seven businesses in the Twin Cities received economic achievement and community development recognition at the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council’s 32nd annual dinner Thursday night at the Ramada Conference Center.

The awards are chosen by the city councils and economic development staff from each city. Recipients for 2013 included leaders in downtown revitalization as well as artisan bread making, fire protection, high-performance firemen’s boot makers, bicycles, and a neighborhood restaurant.

The evening’s keynote speaker, Peter Vigue, who is president and CEO of Cianbro, outlined ways he would suggest to move Maine ahead in several economic areas. The plan involves hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to upgrade Maine’s capabilities in six key areas: home and business weatherization, energy supplies, business climate, food security, health care and transportation.

In Vigue’s keynote address, he told the audience, “We can compete with anyone in the world.” He urged adoption of deep-water off-shore energy generation, and he has pushed for construction of a private East-West highway, which has had mixed reception by Maine businesses and organizations. Sierra Club Maine released a statement opposing Vigue’s East-West highway plan just hours before his address in Lewiston.

The mayors of Lewiston and Auburn introduced video presentations of each business honoree and, with members of each city’s councils and municipal staff on stage, they presented the awards.

Lewiston Mayor Robert D. Macdonald commended The Lofts at Bates Mill and Forage Market for their “significant impact on downtown Lewiston” as well as restoration of historic property.

With the opening of The Lofts at Bates Mill in November of 2012, the variety and quality of downtown living options in Lewiston expanded dramatically. The smoke-free, 48-unit, mixed-income project consists of a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

Nathan Szanton first started exploring Lewiston for a historic mill renovation to housing project in 2010. With the first tenants taking occupancy, The Lofts leased ahead of projections.

The award to Forage Market, which is located at 180 Lisbon St., Lewiston recognized its local farm-fresh produce and dairy offerings, fine coffees and espressos, wine, beer, creative breakfast and lunch menu and “grab-n-go” dinners

Allen Smith, wife Jennifer Weiner Smith and business partner Cody LaMontagne invested a year renovating the circa-1897 circa building into a mercantile showpiece. It has original tin ceilings, reclaimed woods, antique lighting fixtures, vintage coolers and hand-crafted display racks.

The second floor has served as a small business incubator with Chill Yoga as a long-term tenant and the Downtown Homemade and Vintage having recently opened directly above the market.

Lewiston’s third award went to Rainbow Bicycle and Fitness.

In 1999, John Grenier bought the bicycle shop and relocated to Route 4 in Auburn. Excited about the resurgence of life on Lisbon Street, Grenier began looking for a new location in early 2011. Grenier took on many challenges in renovating a long-vacant and unheated building at 97 Lisbon St. He utilized city façade grants and low-cost loans to help meet costs.

Grenier’s bicycle enterprise also includes the Local Grind Café, which features free wireless Internet access for customers.

The firm is promotes all aspects of cycling, from local bike rodeos and charity rides to professional level racing events, and Rainbow Bicycle coordinates mechanical support for the Dempsey Challenge, the Trek Across Maine and the Optimist Club Bike Rodeo.

Auburn Mayor Jonathon LaBonte presented the city’s first Community Development Award to the popular Rolly’s Diner in New Auburn.

Started in 1993 by mother and son Rolande and Ken Blais, Rolly’s Diner has become a community landmark. Starting with just six employees and the simplest of menus, Rolly’s has grown to be quite extensive in their “comforting” diner-style food offerings.

An economic achievement award went to Eastern Fire Protection, which was established in 1942. It is a recognized national leader both in the Fire Protection and Security Systems industry, and also as a local business leader, having been the first industrial tenant of the then new Auburn Airpark in 1982.

An award was presented to Falcon Performance Footwear, established in 1963. Having been located in the landmark Roy Continental Mill in Lewiston for more than four decades, the company’s superior management, outstanding employee work ethic, innovative manufacturing culture and strategic growth made possible their relocation and expansion into the Auburn Airpark at 27 Wright’s Landing.

The firm makes high-performance boots for fire-fighters and other specialized users, including the military.

The Bread Shack of Center Street, Auburn was another award winner.

In his presentation, Mayor LaBonte said, “Upon entering this business, one hasn’t simply entered a bakery, one has entered the studio of a fine artist.”

The culinary artisan in residence is Dara Reimers, who moved from Florida to Maine in 2003 and opened The Bread Shack in 2008.

Reimers is a local entrepreneur and world-class culinary guide, inspiring excellence and a memorable customer experience.


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