Consultant ‘charts a course’ for regional development
MADAWASKA, Maine — Town officials and business leaders from both sides of the border gathered recently in Madawaska to start discussing a new strategic planning process.
Madawaska consultant Sheila Jans, with CultureWorth, presented her concept paper “Charting a Course for a Vision and Strategy for Madawaska,” earlier this month at a Business-to-Business social event at Inn of Acadia.
“What I heard was that there’s a great sense of excitement that something is being done, that’s it’s very constructive how we’re going about it, and that finally, we’re talking about a vision for the town,” Jans said following the meeting.
Madawaska Town Manager Ryan D. Pelletier said the concept paper is a “framework that sets a course for a strategic economic development plan for Madawaska and the entire St. John Valley region.”
More than 30 stakeholders attended the Oct. 12 meeting, including Edmundston, New Brunswick Mayor Cyrille Simard, officials from Northern Maine Development Commission and members of the state legislature and congressional office representatives.
Jans wrote in the concept paper that it is a “first stage of planning,” and that it is “intended to inform strategic planning and help the town raise funds and investment for the planning process.” Jans utilized surveys, research, interviews and feedback from an advisory group in her report. She presented seven key focus areas in the paper, all of which revolve around the broad concept of “building a great place to live,” which includes a place to work, retire and visit.
These focus areas include Community, Culture, and Place; Education and Workforce; Entrepreneurship and Prosperity; Making and Imagination; Youth and Population Growth; Collaboration and Connection; and Municipal Government.
“I was very pleased with the turnout and the presentation,” Pelletier said.
Jans noted that substantive and interesting feedback was received from nearly 200 middle and high school students who responded to a survey. “We need to be paying more attention to them and seeking ways for them to be part of the solution for building a stronger town,” she noted in the paper.
She said the feedback she received during the gathering at the Inn of Acadia was that the timing for this sort of strategic planning was “perfect.”
“There was a lot of interest in not only Madawaska doing well, but how we can expand this work we’re doing for the entire region,” she said.
A copy of Jans’ paper may be found here: http://www.townofmadawaska.com/images/Announcements/CommunityProject.pdf.