The Mark Cayer Prosperity Plan for the City of Lewiston, Maine

  • Economic Development
  • Workforce Education & Development
  • Housing
  • Public Transportation
  • Reducing Generational Poverty

Economic and entrepreneurial development cannot be addressed separately. Now, more than ever, local elected officials must find ways to grow a strong local economy. Most importantly, elected officials need to identify community solutions that create a strong, effective, adaptive and equitable local economic development plan that can do each of the following:

Build on our strengths to make Lewiston an even better place to live, work and play

Support development that focuses on both the economic wellbeing and quality of life of the entire community.

Encourage local people and ideas

Identify entrepreneurs and new ideas that can grow our needed capital.

Promote a vibrant city economy

Develop a business-friendly culture and address city zoning challenges to enhance local entrepreneurship; encourage an increase in the number and diversity of local businesses.

Support the creative economy

Enhance a diverse authentic economy that celebrates our diversity. Support a creative economy that can sustain future generations and foster community and neighborhood revitalization by creating a strong sense of place.

We must also understand and address our economic and community development challenges in order to:

Enhance our current workforce

Workforce development and education must align with our economic development goals.

Reduce our poverty rate

Expand the number of jobs that pay a livable wage.

Create more safe housing

Incentivizing local developers to invest in our community.

Broaden the possibilities for public transportation

Implement urban transportation options to support a local economy.

Development is not sustainable in a community that fails to address its challenges.

Economic Development

Cultivate a vibrant city economy by developing a business-friendly culture that encourages entrepreneurship and increases the number and diversity of businesses.

Without a strong local economy, large scale sustainable development will always be difficult to create and sustain. As a community, we must harness the excitement of sustainable change. It is time for us to spend our time and money on supporting local businesses, developers and community members. We should celebrate past successes, but we must also identify and correct city policies that have hurt local businesses and developers.

Workforce Education & Development

We need to identify the workforce needs of our local businesses. Using a “community solution” approach, we must model our educational system to meet those needs so that our educational goals align with our economic development goals. We need to include all stakeholders and community partners to create a transformative workforce development and education plan.

Housing

In order to sustain economic growth, we need to have decent, affordable housing that provides a safe environment for our young families. Some parts of our current housing stock are unfit to raise children and reflect poorly on our community. Building safe housing requires the support of developers who have a proven track record of successful investment in our community. We must encourage owner-occupied, co-operative housing models and diversified ownership programs that will restore pride to our neighborhoods for both tenants and property owners.

Public Transportation

Public transportation must meet the needs of local residents, employees, and employers. We need to view transportation, and our infrastructural investment not just as a way to get cars to move more effectively, but as a full system that serves bike and pedestrians as well. As a community, we should continue to build upon recent efforts to improve transportation routes and welcome passenger rail service which will also boost our economy.

I am committed to maintaining and broadening the reach of our existing CityLink busses that provide a vital means of transportation for many residents to get to work and shop. With our partners, the Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee and Lewiston Auburn Complete Streets Committee we should increase ridership, convenience and safety while reducing the burden on local property taxpayers.

Reducing Generational Poverty

As a community, we must understand that having a high generational poverty rate adversely affects our economy and takes a toll on our residents. We must find ways to support ongoing efforts to lead our entire community to prosperity. We can accomplish this through a holistic approach that demands measurable outcomes. Local government and non-profit agencies must focus on systems that empower and incentivize people to be self-supporting.

Implementation

How does a Mayor implement a successful prosperity plan?

● By bringing vision and excitement back to our community
● By listening to our residents and taxpayers
● By adopting a “community solutions” approach that provides sustainable results
● By engaging community partners in the development of common goals
● By advocating for immediate action with measurable outcomes
● By finding new funding sources that do not increase property taxes
● By reallocating funds to projects that provide a greater return on investment

Funding

Advocacy organizations such as The National League of Cities (NLC) can be an excellent resource for cities, providing information on available best practices and funding sources for economic and entrepreneurial development. However, it has been over a decade since Lewiston was a member of the NLC. Elected officials must be aware of all the funding resources available to address our community’s needs. These should be explored fully to reduce our reliance on property taxes alone.

Dedicated City Funding

Lewiston’s Economic Development Department should continue to focus on Tax Increment Financing programs to incentivize development efforts that can build a vibrant local economy.

Targeted State Funding

Lewiston must also identify available support from state government for local development. Lewiston has always been fortunate to have a strong, supportive legislative delegation. A Mayor must work closely with these elected leaders to secure funding to move the City forward.

Federal Funding

Many federal funding programs exist to support local community and economic development. Examples include:

● EDA Planning and Local Technical Assistance Programs
● Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding
● New Markets Tax Credits
● Historic Preservation Tax Incentives

Public-Private Partnerships

Local non-profit organizations often fill the gaps that local government cannot address. However, to be effective, these organizations cannot compete against each other for limited resources. To be successful, a mayor must work to bring all stakeholders together to reduce duplicate programming and increase capacity that will serve the entire community.