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Houlton Town Officials Say Proposed Casino Could Boost Northern Maine Economy and Tourism

| March 6, 2014

HOULTONTREEGRANTWEB from WAGM-TV on Vimeo.

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A major construction project that could BOOST Aroostook County’s economy and tourism is being proposed before the state legislature.  The Houlton Band of Maliseets are proposing a casino to be constructed along the North Road Corridor. Houlton Town officials say the idea could be a JACKPOT for economic development and tourism.

But before that could happen, other planned development projects will hopefully WIN over residents and visitors.

Houlton’s North Road Corridor is home to many businesses and new ventures. And in the next two years could become home to ANOTHER. Maine’s newest casino, and Northern Maine’s FIRST. The North Road Corridor site could be a WIN-WIN (WIN) for the Houlton Band of Maliseets, the town and region if the Maliseets’ proposed plan for the casino gets approval by the state legislature. Houlton Town Manager Gene Conlogue says he’s BETTING on it.

“I think it’s a good idea, I think it would enhance tourism for the area and bring people over from New Brunswick bring a few people from around Aroostook County may be people from downstate from time to time I think it has a chance to be helpful in the area’s economy,” says Conlogue.

And extra help for the economy is why Conlogue says he’s ALL IN favor of the casino idea. But the reality of a casino could be at least two years away. In the short term, Conlogue is eyeing other projects that he hopes will boost development and business in Houlton. The first is a green project set for downtown which will SPRUCE up the area. This spring more than 30 trees will be replaced with new ones thanks to an 8 thousand dollar Maine Department of Conservation and Forestry grant, which the town will match.

Conlogue says “some of them have become deformed as they have tried to get the sun because of the type of trees that they are and some of them hang out over parking spaces so they have gotten to be in a situation where its dangerous and what we’re doing now with this project canopy grant is we have enough money to replace all of them.” He adds  the tree project will bring new life to the Market Square. He says the town is working at making the district more attractive to young people.

“We have a number of young people who have moved back to the area they’re starting to do organic farming in Houlton and they have organized as a cooperative and they are going to rent space in the downtown for a store that will operate year round selling organic food, vegetables and things like that.”

Conlogue says the organic farmer’s market will open later this fall. He says all these are ideas to revitalize Houlton’s business community are made possible through partnerships with the Houlton Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Aroostook Economic Development Corporation.

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