The Town of Gorham has actively pursued an economic development program since the creation of the Gorham Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) in 1991. Since that time, the corporation and town have been successful at their primary goals of business attraction, retention, tax base diversification and job creation. As the articles of Incorporation state in part: “The purpose of the Corporation shall be to foster, encourage, and assist the physical location, settlement, and resettlement of industrial, manufacturing, commercial, fishing, agricultural, recreational, and other business enterprises within the Town of Gorham...” . It is appropriate as change and growth comes to the Community to review the effectiveness of activities and create a plan for expanded success at achieving these goals and identifying new ones. This document has been created as a way to identify specific goals and action steps, provide long term continuity, and assist the Community in making future economic development decisions.
Many factors contribute to an economic development strategy which makes a community a vibrant place to live, work, and raise a family. The following goals and action steps are considered necessary and vital to a sustained and successful economic development program in the Town of Gorham. While some of the goals and action steps may be initiated under the GEDC, others will be more effectively carried out through a broad based, multi stakeholder effort.
Goal # 1: Marketing and Communications
The Town of Gorham will aggressively market the community locally and regionally as a great place to live, work and do business.
- The Town and GEDC will continue to work with businesses that increase job opportunities, tax base diversification, and contribute to the community’s well-being. The town should endorse the concept that businesses providing goods and services, whether a 100 employee manufacturer in the Gorham Industrial Park, or the one employee retailer in the village, contribute to its economic success.
- GEDC will conduct regular business visits to gauge the needs and concerns of the business community. Visits should include, from time to time, the Gorham Town Council, members of the Gorham Business Exchange, area legislators, and staff from various Town Departments.
- GEDC will maintain and continue to promote its business development and statistical data base www.GorhamMaine.org.
This effort will include regular updates and effort to achieve search engine optimization, and placing Gorham at the top of search engine results for businesses seeking information on locating here.
- GEDC and the Town of Gorham will continue to participate in local and regional marketing efforts or economic development groups such as the Greater Portland Economic Development Council, Gorham Business Exchange, and Cumberland County Community Block Grant Program.
- Gorham will continue to promote the use of economic development tools it has at its disposal, including the Revolving Loan Fund, Pine Tree Zone, and Tax Increment Financing to attract business to the community.
Goal # 2: Planning and Development Process
A key to successful business attraction is to be timely in the permitting process. The Town of Gorham will be viewed by the business, real estate brokerage, and developer community for being fair, consistent and timely in the review and approval process for commercial development and business related permits.
- Provide clear information and consistent communication from town staff to the business development community throughout the permitting process regarding planning and zoning ordinances and related policies and procedures.
- Periodically review procedures and seek feedback from applicants and their representatives to determine the satisfaction with the permitting process and to seek ways to improve it.
- Treat all applicants appearing before municipal review boards equally and provide thoughtful consideration to each submission to ensure that staff and review boards each adhere to the land use code of the Town of Gorham without exceeding requirements.
- Seek timely input and open lines of communication between all town Departments, including Fire, Police and Public Works, that have a say in the permitting process.
- Where appropriate, invite applicants in various stages of the permitting process to weekly staff meetings of the Planning Department, Code Enforcement Department, and Economic Development Corporation, to identify and address issues.
- Realizing that timing is critical in the decision making process for business seeking to relocate, continue to find ways to streamline and shorten the permitting process.
Goal # 3: Land Use and Zoning
Gorham will continue to conduct its land use development activities in accordance with its Comprehensive Plan and seek to achieve sustainable and diversified business development without jeopardizing the environment or quality of life.
- Recognize that Gorham is a growing and ever changing community and that zoning and land use policies need to adapt to those changes.
- Recognize the value of diversified economic development with regard to size, use, location, transportation, and infrastructure.
- Recognize that natural resource protection and conservation are important to economic development planning by involving groups such as Presumpscot River Land Trust and the Gorham Parks and Recreation Department.
- Utilize Contracting Zoning where appropriate to expand business development opportunities.
- Rezone additional land in the Route 237/Route25 area as Industrial to provide more industrial space in the community.
- Utilize existing studies and recommendations, such as the Gorham Village Master Plan, to improve business services and pedestrian access to the village.
Goal# 4: Regional Cooperation
Gorham will work with other Greater Portland communities to promote and support regional economic development and marketing.
- Gorham will explore participation and membership in the newly created Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation.
- Gorham will participate in transportation planning, infrastructure planning, watershed/storm water planning, affordable housing planning, and communications planning on a regional basis to support economic development.
- Gorham will continue to participate in the Cumberland County Community Block Grant Program to maximize levels of Federal assistance for economic development and planning initiatives.
- Gorham shall continue its participation as a member of the Greater Portland Council of Governments, Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System (PACTS), The Gorham East West Corridor Study, Mobilize Maine, and Ecomaine.
Goal #: 5 Education
Because of its importance to quality of life and economic development, Gorham will continue to endorse quality education at all levels-early childhood, K-12, college, and adult learning.
- Work to ensure that multiple, affordable early childhood development options exist in the community.
- Recognize the importance of and continue to improve the quality of public K-12 education to ensure that it is responsive and relevant to the skills sets required in today’s job market.
- Continue and strengthen the relationship the Town of Gorham has with the University of Southern Maine and in particular The College of Science, Technology, and Health through internships and CO-OP opportunities, technical assistance and Campus Ventures.
- Ensure lifelong learning opportunities to support and attract the adult, aging, and senior populations ( including retraining opportunities)
- Gorham will continue to recognize the significant educational role that Baxter Memorial Library plays in the community and support its programs.
Goal # 6: Quality of Life
In Gorham, quality of life and economic development are interdependent. Gorham will strive to maintain and improve upon its high quality of life. This includes mixed use development, a safe community, transportation options, parks, recreation, and open space, education for all, access to health care services and facilities, and amenities that are enjoyed by both residents and workers.
- Maintain standards as set forth by Planning and the land use codes to support mixed use, diversity of development and quality of life through adherence to the Gorham Comprehensive Plan.
- Foster mixed use development that includes large and small businesses, support of locally owned businesses, a variety of uses (including residential, commercial and industrial), and business and workforce opportunities at all levels.
- Maintain a safe community by having adequate public safety services and by having pedestrian and transportation corridors that allow for safe travel. This includes supporting continued work by the Maine Turnpike Authority Gorham East-West Corridor Study to improve transportation in the Rt. 22/114 South Gorham area, as well as efforts to bring public transportation to Gorham.
- Support active and healthy lifestyles and a sense of community by protecting access to natural resources, creating walking and bike paths, parks and open spaces.
- Support and encourage growth of our numerous amenities, community events, civic and business organizations such as The Baxter Public Library, The Gorham Business Exchange, The Gorham Founders Festival and New Year’s Gorham.
Goal #7: Transportation and Infrastructure
Gorham will plan for future transportation and infrastructure needs and prioritize improvements to be implemented within a reasonable timeframe which support economic development and growth.
- Plan for and facilitate public water and public sewer improvements that can enable future economic development and growth.
- Where appropriate, evaluate municipally owned land and facilities to determine the best means of utilizing these properties for optimum public benefit.
- Work with public transportation companies and neighboring communities on a regional basis to provide reliable and fully connected public transportation options to major residential and commercial development areas around the town.
- Work with government and quasi-governmental agencies to finalize and enact plans to improve key transportation corridors that allow for the smooth flow of traffic. These areas include the Rt. 114/22 overlap in South Gorham, and Main Street in the Village.
- Identify and take advantage of opportunities to provide the latest in technological capabilities in communications to support existing and future businesses.
Adopted by Gorham Town Council 4/3/12