SKOWHEGAN — Nonprofit Main Street Skowhegan, in partnership with the Central Maine Growth Council and Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, has been awarded $484,500 from the Maine Office of Tourism to create a shared regional destination development vision and master plan, brand strategy, and marketing campaign.
This regional initiative is expected to bolster tourism via increased awareness and enhanced visitor experience; competitively attract new businesses, entrepreneurs, and workforce talent; and drive long-term economic prosperity for the Skowhegan/Waterville region. Partners will use grant funding to hire and work with a firm to develop a shared vision, plan, and brand strategy.
“Our region embodies the authentic Maine brand—with a thriving local food scene, world-class arts facilities, and a growing outdoor recreation movement,” said Kristina Cannon, president & CEO of Main Street Skowhegan. “Working together will ensure strategic development, continued momentum, and brand cohesion, positioning the Skowhegan/Waterville region to become a strong contender for tourist, business, and resident attraction.”
With Waterville’s renaissance fully underway, and investment in Skowhegan at an all-time high at more than $650 million, a shared vision for regional development is the next step toward continued growth. A brand strategy with cohesive positioning, messaging, and graphic identity will tell the region’s story while highlighting individual community characteristics and strengths and serving as the basis for a future regional marketing campaign.
“We firmly believe that successful placemaking strategies, in conjunction with our robust tourism and outdoor recreation resources and potential, serve as foundational pillars of our region’s prosperity,” states Garvan Donegan, CMGC director of Planning, Innovation, & Economic Development. “Through a unified regional branding strategy, our goal is to unlock the region’s full potential, encompassing both the hubs of Waterville and Skowhegan, as well as the communities between and along the Kennebec River. This strategy aims to elevate the charm, appeal, and marketing prowess, benefiting not only our residents but also those seeking to explore the natural splendor of Maine. This branding initiative will be pivotal in reaffirming our regional initiatives, amplifying our distinctive assets, and extending both local and global invitations to experience the countless treasures our region offers, with a particular emphasis on enhancing our tourism potential and the vibrant downtown districts that necklace the Kennebec River.”
“This grant provides a vital piece to the Mid-Maine Chamber’s ongoing efforts to showcase the area and grow our regional economy, with the primary goal of attracting tourists, the midterm goal of developing entrepreneurs, and the long-term goal of attracting those who visit and fall in love with our region and relocate here, bringing their families and their dreams,” said Kimberly Lindlof, president & CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the key partners representing more than 20 communities in the region, several other stakeholders have committed to the initiative, including other economic development organizations and municipalities, educational institutions, and businesses.
The Skowhegan/Waterville initiative is one of five grants awarded by the Maine Office of Tourism through their Tourism Marketing & Development Recovery Program, with all projects totaling more than $1.7 million. These sub-awards are funded through the US Economic Development Administration American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation State Grant.
The Skowhegan/Waterville destination development process will tap into current municipal strategic and comprehensive plans and ensure alignment with the Maine Office of Tourism’s recent Destination Master Plan, the refreshed Maine brand, the new five-year strategic plan for 2024-2028, Maine’s Economic Development Strategy 2020-2029, and Maine Won’t Wait, the state’s plan for climate action.
Partners will seek proposals from firms in the coming weeks. Once a firm is hired, the team will engage stakeholders, test and validate, and develop strategies, tactics, and a regional brand identity over the course of the next several months.
“We are thrilled to work together on this first-of-its-kind initiative that will ensure resilience and future prosperity,” said Cannon. “Through this work, we’ll unify regional planning, package our story, and share it with the world.”
Main Street Skowhegan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on the ongoing revitalization of historic Skowhegan, Maine. Our mission is to celebrate Skowhegan’s rich heritage while achieving our brightest future as a thriving economic, cultural, and recreational community where residents enjoy a high quality of life. Learn more at MainStreetSkowhegan.org.
Central Maine Growth Council, located in Waterville, is a public-private collaborative regional economic development partnership funded by municipalities and businesses who share a common vision of economic prosperity for our region. CMGC is committed to fostering a robust regional economy. Our belief is that the standard of living and quality of life of our citizens is best served by a vibrant, healthy economy. This is accomplished with a strong successful business community.
The Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce is dedicated and committed to promoting, educating and advocating for business prosperity and regional economic improvement.