By Liz Allen, Director of Communications & Community Engagement, City of Auburn, Maine
AUBURN COMMITS TO GROWTH, QUALITY & INVESTMENT
Exciting things are happening in Auburn. Just ask anyone on the city’s new “growth, quality and investment” team.
In September of 2018, Auburn’s city council appointed community leaders, elected officials, and school and city staff to draft a strategic plan to develop and grow the city, enhance the quality of life of residents, and invest in the city’s future. The result was a list of strategic recommendations, built around topics such as the protection of natural resources, education, transit, infrastructure, communications, and arts, culture & recreation. The final recommendations also placed meaningful focus on defining and promoting industry cluster; focusing on Great Falls Plaza, downtown & the Androscoggin River; and supporting the rehabilitation and beautification of neighborhoods.
As a reflection of Auburn’s commitment to the plan, City Manager Phil Crowell has strategically aligned three city divisions. Together they form Auburn’s “growth, quality and investment” team. The three units include: Planning, Permitting and Code, led by Eric Cousens; Business and Community Development, led by Glen Holmes; and Economic and Community Development, led by Jay Brenchick.
Recently, Auburn launched a promotional initiative highlighting the many opportunities available in Auburn. The campaign proclaims that in Auburn, “Your next opportunity is closer than you think.” The city also created a new website dedicated to economic development, goauburn.me.
Auburn’s Mayor, Jason J. Levesque, is highly supportive of the team and thrilled by Auburn’s potential. In his recent “State of the City” address, Levesque encouraged substantial new growth, saying, “I truly believe that the best and most efficient solution is to promote growth, and to encourage and allow for more investment, specifically, the construction and sale of market rate homes. And when I say more, I mean about 2,000 more homes, over the next five to seven years. We can balance our commitment to protect our environment with our desire to grow our downtown, and our residential and industrial base.”
The mayor’s enthusiasm is based upon results. Auburn has been setting records almost monthly. In fact, Auburn is reporting over 1 million new square feet of industrial and retail development throughout the city. That means more jobs, and more opportunity for current and future residents. Auburn has also had record growth in home building and rehabilitation. “You can’t miss the transformation when you drive around town these days,” added Levesque.
Auburn’s population is approximately 24,000, spread out over nearly 70 square miles. “That is bigger than Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, and Cape Elizabeth combined,” said Levesque. “We have the space, the perfect location within the state, the infrastructure and the perfect team in place to grow this city mindfully and strategically.”
“We encourage and invite developers to connect with us,” said City Manager Phil Crowell. “Our team is eager to share the countless positive attributes and initiatives that make Auburn so appealing.” These include a recently implemented development incentive program that cuts commercial building fees in half and eliminates residential building permit fees for Veterans; state-delegated permit reviews at a fraction of the cost of usual state fees; project and permit approval in 30 days to 3 months, which is a fraction of the time it takes elsewhere; downtown Form Based Code Districts that offer developers more creativity and the opportunity to realize greater returns on investment; and more.
Auburn has also set aside $1 million to incentivize investments in downtown and has recently listed six highly desirable city-owned lots and one very historic building for sale.
Auburn’s promise to those looking to invest, according to Levesque: “Let us show you why Auburn is the perfect choice for your project. Come here with an open mind and know that you will find willing and welcoming partners at city hall and regulatory consistency within city government. Our residents will welcome you and take pride in your success.”
“Spotlight on Maine: News from…” is a new piece dedicated to MEREDA’s member municipalities. We invite you to submit your own 500-750 word article highlighting what’s happening in your own city or town. Please connect with Shelly R. Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on how to submit an article for consideration.