What do Fargo, ND and Lewiston/Auburn, ME have in common?
Whether your wish for our cities is for growth or economic development, wishing for it will not get us there. There are many people working hard to make it happen in L-A. Over the last 40 years (since the demise of the mills and shoe shops), there have been many suggestions for boosting the economic presence of these two cities in Maine, the country and of late, worldwide. Some ideas have worked and others have not. But the overall direction may be called progress. Lewiston-Auburn is more viable today than it was 30 years ago.
The economic growth that happened 100 years ago was a windfall of large magnitude. to think this will happen again would be fooling ourselves. It could, but it is unlikely. So, 100 years ago we had people flocking to this area to work in the mills, shops and retail establishments that this growth was producing. But take away those large employers, and your left with a large population with not enough living wage employment to support it. We’ve seen that for the last 40 years or more. How do we gain that edge back?
I attended a public economic development event recently aimed at getting commuter trains to come to our cities. Standing in the Royal Oak Room at Ironhorse Court on Bates St., the former train depot in Lewiston, you wonder why we aren’t attracting more business, more transportation and more people. I have seen promotional videos, articles and brochures where we actively tout our features and benefits. They have had an effect. I’ve heard the slogans repeated from people ‘from away’. The question is “Are we looking in the right places to draw businesses in?”
Below is a link for a TedX video that a bright young man, Greg Tehven, did to show how Fargo, ND went from a boring little town to a community that holds on to its youth after high school and college. Further demeaned by a movie named Fargo, the youth of Fargo decided they “weren’t going to take it anymore”. And they didn’t. Watch this 15 minute video all the way through to gain the energy and ambition that our youth have and how we need to pay attention to them.