The city of Bath was among nine communities named Wednesday as Maine’s first officially designated “business-friendly communities.”

In an announcement at the State House, Gov. Paul LePage and Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais said Bath would be recognized, along with Augusta, Biddeford, Brewer, Bucksport, Guilford, Lincoln, Saco and Sanford.

Nineteen communities applied for the designation, which was created “to recognize Maine communities for their commitment to job creation, reducing red tape and being ‘open for business,’” according to a release from the Maine DECD.

David Sinclair, chairman of the Bath City Council, attended Wednesday’s event, along with City Councilors Mari Eosco and Kyle Rogers.

Sinclair said he was honored to represent the city.

“This recognition of Bath as an area that’s a wonderful place to work and that’s open to business development is well-deserved,” he told The Times Record on Wednesday afternoon.

Announcing the program in March, LePage described it as “another step toward partnering with business, to ensure they have the tools and environment they need to expand and create jobs in Maine.”

“What a business looks for is stability, reliability and consistency,” he said at the time. “That’s what we need to bring to the forefront. Businesses face many obstacles. They do not need — nor should they be focusing on — dealing with local, state and federal government.”

Communities would be certified quarterly, would receive an award from LePage and would “become a key part of Maine’s Business Attraction strategy,” the DECD website said at the time. They also would receive “bonus points” when applying for CDBG grants, although the site noted that the program was “pending.”

Communities were evaluated by a panel including Gervais; Amy Downing of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce; John Butera, senior economic adviser to LePage; Chris Steele of CWS Consulting Group; Chuck Graceffa of Pierce Atwood; Peter DelGreco, president of Maine & Company; and Andrea Smith from the DECD.

Communities were ranked according to criteria that include customer service, business involvement and collaboration, input from the public, and licensing and permitting.

“I want to congratulate and thank the recipients for their continued commitment to business excellence,” LePage said in the release. “These nine communities have set an example for others to follow as we move Maine forward as a place where businesses and communities can thrive.”

“DECD will gladly work with any Maine community that wants to earn this designation; we want every Maine city and town to be businessfriendly,” Gervais said. “Several of the nominees who did not qualify are now working diligently to enhance their practices to meet businessfriendly standards so that they may be certified in the future.”

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