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A new Waterville nonprofit organization could strengthen businesses and join a regional economic development effort that could bring companies to develop land off a newly built U.S. 24, officials said Tuesday.
"There literally has never been a better time to be doing exactly what you're doing," Dean Monske, president of the Regional Growth Partnership, told about 75 people at the Waterville Economic Development Corp.'s kickoff.
Mayor Lori Brodie, city council members, school leaders, and others attended the town-hall-style meeting at Waterville Primary School intended to drum up support for the new agency, It formed an interim board of directors in January.
The corporation's initial goal is to talk with the roughly 65 Waterville businesses, from the mom-and-pop shops to the larger corporations, to hear the owners' needs and struggles, said Councilman Tim Pedro, a development corporation board member.
The group is also looking to tap into the Regional Growth Partnership, which talks with company leaders and site consultants scouting new business locations nationwide.
A major selling point to companies will be the U.S. 24 expressway between Waterville and Napoleon, to be completed in September, Mr. Monske said. "The opportunities you have in this community because of that new Rt. 24 are phenomenal," he said.
Mr. Pedro highlighted in particular three parcels of land:
About 19 undeveloped acres off Dutch Road by the Fallen Timbers Business Park.
400 acres at the new U.S. 24 and State Route 64 interchange zoned for mixed use.
120 acres of city-owned property near Waterville-Monclova Road and the current U.S. 24 envisioned as a professional business park, upscale housing, and green space.
Mr. Monske said he was impressed by the development corporation's initiative. "The first thing you do is you say you want to participate, and you've done that pretty loud and clear today," he said.
The development corporation is the only such group in the city, Mr. Pedro said, since Waterville disbanded an economic development committee in late 2011 because of lack of momentum. The group has collected just under $4,000, which includes $2,500 the city donated in March.
The development corporation's offices are in the Waterville Chamber of Commerce building, Mr. Pedro said.
Contact Gabrielle Russon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6026.