Attendees take part in an exercise during last year’s Build Maine conference in Skowhegan. This year’s edition of the conference, which provides a forum for leaders in transportation planning, real estate development, public service and other areas to share insights on reinvigorating and strengthening Maine’s communities, starts Wednesday. Ann Rieke photo

SKOWHEGAN — Experts in planning, development and public policy will join hundreds of officials and business leaders from across the state this week for the annual Build Maine conference, held for the third year in Skowhegan.

Starting Wednesday, an expected 250 attendees will attend planned workshops and presentations focused on topics related to development, housing, transportation and more that they can apply locally, according to a news release from the nonprofit Main Street Skowhegan, one of the conference hosts and organizers.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Build Maine attendees to Skowhegan again this year,” Kristina Cannon, president and CEO of Main Street Skowhegan, said in a statement. “With all of the momentum in Skowhegan around community economic development initiatives, civic infrastructure development, and village design, Skowhegan provides the perfect backdrop for this innovative event.”

Build Maine begins Wednesday with a session on how to repurpose upper floors of downtown buildings, led by Kerri Falletti from the Kansas Department of Commerce and John Egan from the Genesis Fund. Wednesday evening will also feature Main Street Skowhegan’s business lab pitch competition, in which five local entrepreneurs and three high school students will compete for cash prizes.

Presentations and workshops scheduled throughout the day Thursday will cover topics that include the impact of climate change on planning; the relationship between climate and housing policies, rural population growth and sustainable transit systems in Maine; and small-scale housing developments.

Also on Thursday, the advocacy group GrowSmart Maine and its partners will provide a recap of Policy Action 2023, a two-year effort that resulted in 17 legislative bills that aimed to reduce barriers to building housing and address the loss of rural and working lands to development.


State officials from the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and MaineHousing will provide updates on state-level programs and sources of funding available to municipalities to help advance local priorities. Officials from Vermont and New Hampshire will also share new policies and programs in their states.

Nathan Phillips, a professor of earth and environment at Boston University, speaks last year at Build Maine in Skowhegan. Ann Rieke photo

Thursday will also feature a session on how Main Street businesses can thrive across the U.S., led by Matt Wagner, chief program officer at the national group Main Street America.

During the conference, participants can also tour business development projects in Madison and Waterville, Skowhegan’s Maine Grains grist mill, and the Spinning Mill redevelopment in downtown Skowhegan. Social and networking events are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

Along with Main Street Skowhegan and the town of Skowhegan, organizers, supporters and hosts of Build Maine are the Congress for the New Urbanism Maine, the Maine Downtown Center, the Maine Municipal Association, and the Maine Real Estate & Development Association.

To learn more about the conference or to register to attend, visit

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