19 towns, cities up for Gov. LePage’s new biz-friendly designation

The state is considering 19 communities across Maine to be the first ones named in Gov. Paul LePage’s new “Certified Business Friendly Community” program.

The Maine communities that submitted applications in this first round are: Augusta, Bath, Biddeford, Brewer, Bucksport, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gorham, Guilford, Houlton, Kennebunk, Lincoln, Pittsfield, Presque Isle, Rumford, Saco, Sanford, South Portland and Waterboro, according to a Monday release from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

The program was launched last month, an outgrowth of a series of sessions LePage held around the state last fall with business leaders. Businesses told administration officials that state agencies were becoming more business friendly, but challenges still existed in many local communities.

In the Certified Business Friendly Community program, communities, chambers of commerce, trade organizations and others can apply to be registered. Any application has to have a community’s blessing.

A review team of seven people will look at the applications quarterly, with the first review scheduled for May. They will look at criteria such as customer service, collaboration between communities and the business community, licensing, permitting and other areas. Reference letters from local businesses will be part of the process. And the community will have to post public notices notifying people that it is applying for the certification and noting that the state is looking for public comment.

Communities in the program can use the “Business Friendly” designation in their marketing efforts, will be recognized on the state DECD website, will get an “Open for Business” road sign and will be a “key part of Maine’s business attraction strategy,” according to a release on the program. Certification is for two years.