WILTON — There are several tactics that can help economic growth in Wilton, Mike Lyne of JHR Development said at the second Wilton Economic Forum on Thursday.

Real success lies in committed people who love the area and are willing to work together, he said. They include the property owners and town officials who came to the breakfast meeting to share solutions and ask questions. A lot of communities don’t get to this point, Lyne said.

Through his work with JHR Development, a real estate development company with an office in Brunswick, Lyne outlined some major projects undertaken to restore and redevelop commercial properties, such as Barber Foods in Portland, the U.S. Navy Commissary in Brunswick or mixed use commercial spaces around the new Brunswick Station.

Location, planning, timing and marketing were a few factors shared.

But it’s entrepreneurs, innovators and people who love this state who are succeeding, he said.

While Maine’s economy doesn’t feel like it’s booming, the bottom doesn’t drop. It’s a little steadier than the peaks and valleys other states experience, he said.

It takes perseverance and hard work but the strength here is the quality of life, he said.

“It’s really important to figure out the region’s strength,” he said, ” … and work together.”

Sponsored by the town of Wilton and the Greater Franklin Development Corporation, the forum invited local property owners to discuss their buildings and attempts to lease or sell them.

One issue raised by Town Manager Rhonda Irish was how to promote the area and overcome the draw of coastal Maine.

“What’s better than this?” Lyne asked, referring to the mountains and lakes.

Mt. Blue High School classmates of Chris Farmer, general manager of Saddleback, tell him they wish they were here instead of New York or Boston. “They know we’re living the life we did as children instead of raising their children in the city,” he said.

With technology, people can live in Wilton and provide work around the world, Lyne said. His wife, a drafter, has customers in Alaska.

Farmer lauded the draw of Wilton’s Blueberry Festival. People come back here for it, he said.

Lyne suggested business fronts be pristine for the weekend.

Downtowns are an asset people want to enjoy but they have to shine, he said.

For Carlton Berry, who is trying to sell the former Agway store on Route 2 and 4,  interest isn’t the problem; getting financing is.

“People are interested in the store but want me to finance it,” he said.

The other issue is retail sales are now done over the Internet and delivered to your door, Berry said. 

Selectman Paul Berkey suggested the downtown hardware store needed to reopen. It brings a flow of people downtown, he said.

A small storefront with a crafter studio behind it is local business while the crafter may be selling worldwide via the Internet, Lyne said.

The Bass Building in downtown Wilton was 65-percent leased, but then four tenants went out of business, Joey Cousineau said. Now they are trying to put in apartments and maybe a gym on one floor along with a water turbine for electricity, he said.

The mix of residential and business is good, Lyne said. But, there’s no right answer.

The forum was the second in a series titled, “Wilton’s Future … Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Energy and Technology.”

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