It’s a big deal for the little town that could. Fort Kent is Maine’s newest certified business friendly community.
“We’re really ecstatic about the recognition and we look forward to inviting more and more businesses here,” said Skyla Hamilton, executive director of the Greater Houlton Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a reaffirmation of the efforts we’ve put in,” said town manager Don Guimond.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Town manager approved the town’s request this week. Guimond says the town is active in business development, the community development block grant program, America’s first mile and more — all of which contributed to the certification. He says after the 2008 flood and a number of devastating fires downtown- getting this recognition feels good.
“It’s easy to roll over and give up..it’s a lot harder to say we’re not giving up we’re going to beat this, we’re going to be successful,” said Guimond.
In the last year the community has seen Ameridial open and put more than 90 people to work – and the car dealership downtown come back to life after the 2012 fire. Steve Pelletier of Valley Motors says the town was huge in making that happen.
“They pushed the permits through, there wasn’t any issues, we had a road closure which was a big part of the project, they got that done for me, they’ve been very helpful,” he said.
Guimond says the town is always in conversations with potential new businesses and in the coming year some vacant spots on main street could be filled. Executive Director of the Greater Fort Kent Chamber of Commerce says they have more than 175 members right now..and they hope this recognition boosts that number.
“I hope that businesses from afar will want to move to this area, relocate to this area.. Fort Kent has the lights on, the door is open, and they’re welcome to anyone who is willing to walk through the door,” she said.
Guimond also credits the collaboration that goes on in town and he says he hopes this will also make people in this community more aware of what this place has to offer.