Chenette bill to revitalize downtowns earns initial Senate approval

Posted: May 31, 2017 | Senator Chenette

AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Wednesday voted 18-16 to give preliminary approval to LD 1343, a bill that would encourage revitalization of Maine downtowns by establishing a forgivable loan for startup businesses to create jobs.

The bill “An Act To Promote Downtown Revitalization by Creating the Locating Businesses Downtown Loan Program,” is sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.

The Communities For Maine’s Future Program, or CMF is part of a $25 million bond approved by voters in 2010, and provides competitive grants to municipalities for community development projects. Sen. Chenette’s bill creates the Locating Business Downtown Loan Program within the CMF, designed to provide forgivable loans to businesses looking relocate to a downtown area, village area or along a main street.

“This bill is Economic Development 101: Create the right conditions and the right incentives and businesses will come,” said Sen. Chenette. “Revitalization of our downtowns — the walkable, denser parts of our towns and cities — is an integral part of sustaining a community that will be inviting and welcoming to families and businesses for generations. We’ve seen this work pay huge dividends just in our region, but it’s happening all over Maine. From Biddeford to Bangor, people are stepping up to for downtowns that bring people together.”

The bill is partly based on the Main Street Challenge, a local program launched in Biddeford that provides funds and assistance to new business ventures to help them with startup costs throughout their first year.

The bill has earned the support of Growsmart Maine and the Maine Association of Realtors.

LD 1343 faces further votes in the House and Senate.