Neighbor Robert Biggs, the new executive director for Saco Main Street, in his Saco office.

Neighbor Robert Biggs, the new executive director for Saco Main Street, in his Saco office.

SACO — Robert Biggs and his family moved to Saco in June from Illinois, and the city quickly became home.

“I’ve been herr seven months; it feels like I’ve been here 10 years,” he said.

Biggs, 59, was hired in January as the new full-time executive director of Saco Main Street, a local economic development organization once known as Saco Spirit.

Originally from Massachusetts, Biggs was visiting relatives on the East Coast in Christmas 2014 when his two daughters, now 12 and 16, said they wanted to move to Maine. He thought the feeling would wear off, but it didn’t.

He and his wife announced they wanted to sell their home, and three days later, they had a buyer.

The Biggs family looked at different towns in southern Maine, and his daughters toured several schools. They settled upon Saco.

“It felt like a comfortable town,” said Biggs.

Biggs said he likes Saco’s downtown, the ocean, Saco River frontage and Thornton Academy. He’s taken an interest in learning the history of the city’s downtown and former mill district, and his family lives in the city in a home built in the 1820s.

“I’ve always been intrigued by history,” said Biggs. “I would have loved to have been here in the 1850s and watch these plants go. It must have been humming.”

When he moved to Saco, Biggs asked his insurance agent, Peg Poulin, how he could get involved in the city. She directed him to Saco Main Street, and he became a board member. Then he decided to apply for the director position.

Biggs formerly worked in real estate management and facilities management, but he felt called to take on a different type of job, something where he could make an impact.

Since Biggs took on the position, he’s been talking with business owners and others to see what they’d like to see downtown. He plans to work with downtown property owners to see how to bring in a mix of restaurants and other businesses that will attract people to the downtown and make it a destination for locals and vacationers.

He also plans to reach out to churches, community groups and assisted living communities, and strengthen connections with Thornton Academy and the Saco Museum.

He said he wants to know what would draw seniors in the downtown as well as teenagers. He would like to see a teen center downtown, and would like to see the train station building better utilized. And he’d like to grow the annual events that Saco Main Street has traditionally hosted as well as establish a summer concert series at Pepperell Park.

Biggs said he’s looking forward to meeting with Heart of Biddeford and other Main Street organizations in the state and also working with the Biddeford & Saco Chamber of Commerce + Industry and city officials.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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