Newsletter – March 11, 2019

Our current initiatives are:

Developing an updated Strategic Plan to allow us to fully understand need and outcomes while considering our capacity.

  • Our new Vision Statement: GFDC’s vision is to enhance the quality of life in Western Maine by fostering a vibrant economy where opportunities abound.
  • Our new Mission Statement: GFDC’s mission is to attract and assist businesses and entrepreneurs by advocating, promoting, and collaborating to support a sustainable and thriving economy.

Delivering our county-wide broadband plan and bringing it to implementation. The data from our Franklin County Broadband Initiative Plan has helped providers to develop business plans for their deployment of fiber throughout our region. Specifically, one provider has two loan applications ready to be submitted to the USDA. If approved, these loans would underwrite significant fiber implementation in Chesterville, New Sharon, Farmington and along the Route 4 corridor towns of Strong, Avon, Phillips and Rangeley. Towns will not be paying for this work.  Another provider has offered their solution for fiber deployment. Both proposals are a big step forward and a direct result of the data produced by the Plan that each of our twenty-two towns paid to fund. While significant, these proposals will be partial solutions that will still require financial commitment from each town. GFDC continues to seek possible federal monies to offset the burden for our towns.

Workforce Development: Our community has had two businesses announce the closing of their local offices – Barclays and Coca Cola. While this is devastating news, the response from our local agencies and the state has been swift and impressive.  The United Way immediately convened a Community Transition Team. The Governor dispatched the Department of Labor’s Rapid Response Team and Consumers for Affordable Healthcare scheduled workshops to address the most expressed anxiety from these workers. At Coca Cola 6 of the 12 displaced workers will relocate with Coke.   To facilitate finding new careers for their employees Barclays has been hosting employers to allow onsite interviewing. As an employer Barclays has been exemplary in their support to find their staff new opportunities for work.

Engaging CMP to offer them ways on how they can ‘benefit the communities in which they work’. Should CMP go through with their transmission line we need to ensure that there is demonstrated Public Benefit for the whole of Franklin County. We first reached out to CMP a year ago in February. The data from our broadband plan helped us offer them a little-to-no-cost solution on how they could be the catalyst for implementing high-speed connectivity across our whole county. Alongside of elected officials we also presented CMP with specific requests for funding support of economic development initiatives and education.

A regional Branding and Marketing initiative that will organize and amplify the assets and experiences that our region can offer via a website that we will be rolling out in May. We are working with two action items:

  • Work collaboratively (and creatively) in building awareness of the High Peaks region and brand we’ve created.
  • Develop a campaign to attract visitors to the region, but not just any visitors. There are a number of entities across the region, as well as the State of Maine, that are working to drive more tourists to the High Peaks. There are no fewer than five websites currently promoting things to do, places to eat, and places to stay across the High Peaks. So we’re thinking differently by organizing a network of business excursion hubs that market our region as Maine’s premiere destination for corporate excursions. We aim to launch the website dedicated to the campaign by May.

Engaging the Legislature on each of the above issues as well as two solar bills that could result in energy solutions for many of our towns and citizens.

Our regional Arts, Cultural and Heritage plan rolled out surveys to gather data about existing assets and find synergies to strengthen and identify opportunities with untapped assets. We plan to have the surveys out until April or early May. Physical surveys will be available at town offices in each town until we wrap up the survey in the spring and online surveys are linked below. It’s extremely important to this cultural plan that we hear everyone’s voices – not just those who can access an online survey.

Please consider sharing our Facebook posts, forwarding our email blasts, adding the survey links to your newsletters, or talking to your friends and colleagues about the initiative. The results from this survey will dictate action items for the arts and culture sector in the future.

You may fill out as many of the surveys that apply to you:

Public Opinion Survey

Artist Survey

Cultural Organization Survey

Your feedback is welcome. If you want to hear more about these topics please contact me at

Charlie Woodworth, Executive Director


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