Summit to showcase downtown potential

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The 2017 GrowSmart Maine Summit will take place Oct. 18 at Westbrook's Dana Warp Mill.

WESTBROOK — The annual GrowSmart Maine Summit will take place in Westbrook next week.

The summit, which is scheduled for Oct. 18, is a daylong event showcasing local redevelopment, historical preservation and downtown revitalization. Local, state and national leaders will be present to discuss and learn about Westbrook’s growth and development.

“We like to just bring people into your community, maybe for the first time, maybe as a repeat visit, just invite them to see Westbrook from a different perspective with new eyes,” Tyler Kidder, GrowSmart Maine’s community outreach director, said at the Sept. 11 City Council meeting.

Abigail Cioffi, the executive director of the Downtown Westbrook Coalition, said the conference will be great exposure for the city.

“We’re obviously really excited,” she said. “It gives us a chance to show off Westbrook and the work we’ve been doing.”

The summit will begin at the Dana Warp Mill with an hourlong networking breakfast at 8 a.m. From 9-10:30 a.m. there will be five panel discussions and walking tours for participants to choose from. The first option will focus on arts in Westbrook and the variety of community projects and initiatives that bring art to the public.

The second option will be about how Westbrook connects food and people and the roles restaurants play in the local economy. The third panel and walking tour will focus on the role of the Presumpscot River in the community, both from a historic preservation standpoint and from a recreational opportunity standpoint.

The fourth panel will be about creating a welcoming community for immigrants and refugees and the fifth will be about renovating and revitalizing historic buildings in Westbrook. All of the panels and walking tours will be presented by local community, municipal and business leaders.

Participants will reconvene at the Dana Warp Mill for an hourlong presentation from GrowSmart Maine before lunch at noon. From 12:30-4:45 p.m. there will seven consecutive discussions on growth and development in Maine. From 4:45-6 p.m. there will be a networking reception at Mast Landing Brewing Company.

Registration costs $60 for GrowSmart members, $75 for non-members, and $25 for students. Participants can register online until Oct. 17. Kidder said she expects 200 people to attend.

Cioffi said hosting the summit in the Dana Warp Mill, which has been redeveloped as business and office space, will show people the possibility it has for development. She said it’s important for people to “see the space, especially one that might not be at the forefront of people’s minds with redevelopment.”

Kidder said GrowSmart Maine chose Westbrook to host the event because of its potential for development. Last year the event was held in Waterville and next year it will be in Bangor.

“We chose Westbrook because we’re really interested in moving this event around the state,” Kidder said. “We know there’s great stuff happening in Westbrook and this was a great excuse to come work with you a little more.”

Cioffi said she had been in contact with GrowSmart Maine about other projects when it asked if Westbrook would host the summit. She said she’s pleased GrowSmart is interested in the city and that event will get other people excited about its potential as well.

“I hope it builds the (Westbrook) name,” Cioffi said. “We’re working on changing Westbrook and showcasing its history as well as all the changes.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

The 2017 GrowSmart Maine Summit will take place Oct. 18 at Westbrook’s Dana Warp Mill.

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