FARMINGTON — Greater Franklin Development Executive Director Charles Woodworth provided Farmington Selectmen Tuesday, Oct. 22, with a summary of work being done politically and in advocacy, workforce development and marketing.

“We are challenged, have a shrinking or static and aging population,” he said. “Our opportunity for success is growth through retaining and attracting younger families to come here.

“The economy is shifting. You can live where you would like to and work from there.”

Woodworth said it’s about quality of place, increased property tax revenues for communities.

“Farmington shares a greater burden than the majority of surrounding towns,” Woodworth said. “If you spread it out to surrounding towns, it reduces the burden.”

Board Chairman Joshua Bell asked if there were things the town could tweak that would help with economic development.

Woodworth said Farmington has a dense population. He knows of two sites that would be great co-worker spaces.

“Co-worker spaces are aimed at one-person shops. Those involved don’t want to work from home,” he said. “They like the socialization, the free flow of ideas, shared interests. They can split rent, copier expenses, all that stuff.  It’s a phenomena that is gaining traction around the United States.”

Farmington resident Amber Kapiloff said a co-worker space would be a great thing to bring to Farmington and could increase sales at other businesses.

“It attracts people who work remotely. It’s huge to be able to get in to downtowns, network with other business owners or self-employed people,” she said. “Somebody going to their camp in Industry could come to a co-worker space for the day. That’s money going back in to the town.”

Woodworth spoke of Rep. Jared Golden’s work on a broadband bill in the house. Golden visited recently and wanted examples of citizens affected by inadequate broadband.

“We spoke with a forester who could grow his business but needs to farm out a lot of the work,” Woodworth said. “Talked with a working professional trying to get her degree online. The great thing about online universities is you can work, do schooling on your own schedule.”

He said for some in this area, when taking classes at night you hope the assignment goes through by the time you wake up.

Woodworth said better internet is needed at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to deliver services to patients who aren’t so inclined to travel to the hospital. If you can communicate electronically with them you’ll have greater participation by patients. They’ll be healthier, it will lower the cost of delivery,” he said.

Woodworth spoke of his advocacy efforts to effect policy that will affect the region including the broadband issue and solar power. He recently attended a Telecommunications of New England conference where he spoke about all 22 towns signing on to the broadband initiative.

“They see us as a safe investment,” he said. “Two providers from away are interested. If we have success, it will be the first evidence of implementation as a result of our plan. It will be a catalyst for catching the attention of other providers.”

Regarding the workforce, Woodworth said Franklin County has been reinvigorated by federal funding.

“Students have opportunities, workers get staff,” he said.

Under outreach, Woodworth said a new website is being developed that focuses on promoting the region and visitation. Its first campaign will promote corporate retreats with eight venues featured as possibilities.

For the past year the council, ArtsFarmington and Reinholt Consulting have been working to develop a cultural plan for the region. On Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. at North Church, the plan will be presented.

“We heard there is a desire to have a calendar everyone can populate so there will be no overlaps,” he said. “We want every organization to have success, increased participation. This is one way to do that. With technology, I think we can do this.

“Farmington’s support to us, for other towns to see that is really important. For elected officials at the county level, it’s really working. “


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