LEWISTON — Get more people here working. Get more people who already work here living here. Open more second- and third-shift child care centers. Lift regional spending, perception and wages.

Shanna Cox, president and CEO of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Submitted photo

The Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce released its Blueprint for Economic Growth in the LA Metropolitan Region on Thursday, a slate of goals and short- and long-term ideas to get there, all pulled together by its Regional Roundtable, a membership tier with some of the area’s largest companies.

“It’s an opportunity to be clear about what we think is possible if we work regionally and collectively,” President and CEO Shanna Cox said.

Included in the three overarching goals:

• Increase the population base of the LA region: Target individuals with professional certifications, associate degrees, or advanced degrees in construction, health care, education, finance, manufacturing and agriculture. Provide quality public transportation that connects workforce to key industry employers and regional transportation systems.

• Increase business revenue in the LA region: Support entrepreneurs and incubate new businesses. Increase the educational attainment of the population, increase the population’s disposable income, support cluster industries.


• Increase consumer spending in the LA region: Create and implement a “buy local” campaign. Increase the number of residents participating in the workforce. Increase overall employment rates and increase the wages of residents in the region.

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Goals list time frames and partners whom business leaders felt could pull together to work on them, including the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston Auburn College, Downtown Lewiston Association, both Twin Cities as well as the towns of Poland and Lisbon, SCORE, Small Business Development Centers and regional banks and credit unions.

Specific benchmarks — the date by which to increase the number of small businesses here and by when, or increase overall consumer spending in the region by how much and by when — are coming this summer. Cox said the chamber is still working with an economist on that.

“We want to be pretty explicit about what the change is we wanted to see and we wanted to have realistic and measurable goals to gauge our progress,” she said, adding, “I think there’s room for all kinds of players: State government, local government, I think residents, citizens. I also think businesses. What should I invest in or where should I invest? If you’re looking to expand, this sends out a really clear intention that there’s a lot of leaders aligned on what their goals are and this is a place you can make an investment and feel that it was smart.”

Lewiston Mayor Mark Cayer said that while he had a limited role in the blueprint, with City Administrator Denis D’Auteuil representing Lewiston in its development, he felt like good work had been done.


“I particularly liked the goal of increasing consumer spending in the area,” Cayer said. “I firmly believe buying local causes money to be recirculated within the local economy — this in turn builds and grows a stronger, more vibrant local economy. History shows if the lights are on, businesses and developers take notice.”

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said he considered the blueprint “relevant and attainable” and that it speaks to goals in his recent “State of the City” address, growing the population, workforce and wages.

Neil Kiely, president and CEO of Androscoggin Bank and also part of the roundtable, said the blueprint brought together a great cross section of the community with business, city and academic representatives.

“Our hope is that it becomes a living document for others to add their knowledge, expertise and energy to bring it to life,” he said. “The strength of the plan is that it recognizes the interdependence of all three of the initiatives. That said, I am particularly excited about the focus on supporting our entrepreneurs with resources to launch new businesses and helping existing businesses to find the employees they need to grow.”

Alex McMahan, operating manager at The Healing Community MEDCo in Lewiston, also on the roundtable, said his company is already working on some of the short-term steps including acting as a mentor to other entrepreneurs in the Top Gun LA program.

It’s also trying to put other goals into practice, he said, focusing a hiring effort on people in the community and offering a higher rate of pay.

“All of these goals are highly attainable and we are hoping that by demonstrating the feasibility of these goals we will be able to encourage other businesses to join in our efforts as a community,” McMahan said.

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