Kudos to Charles Lawton for his insightful Nov. 24 Maine Voices op-ed on community investment and economic growth. There are lessons for all in the recent partnership among Colby College, the Harold Alfond Foundation and the city of Waterville.

Dr. Lawton did not, however, reference the 2010 Maine Quality of Place law, signed by then-Gov. John Baldacci after three years of research and broad public input and support. It recognizes Maine’s quality of place assets as our strongest competitive advantage and a needed complement to traditional economic development strategies that offset Maine’s cost disadvantages.

Maine’s exceptional quality of place assets are everywhere about us, waiting to be realized. The 2010 law strengthened the alignment between state, federal, private and philanthropic investment and local and regional priorities for downtown revitalization, riverfront redevelopment, historic preservation, outdoor recreation, the creative economy and transportation. Several Maine communities ― such as Bethel, Fort Kent, Portland and Rockland — have quickly turned local quality of place assets into economic gain.

Unfortunately, the Quality of Place law became collateral damage to the destruction by Gov. Paul LePage’s administration of the Maine State Planning Office, where Dr. Lawton served the state so long and well. Today, Gov. Mills could not do better than to resurrect the Maine Quality of Place law as a central part of her forthcoming Maine Economic Development Strategy, 2020-2029.

That is how we may make all Maine communities more attractive places for all Mainers – old and new alike – to live, work, play and visit.

Richard Barringer


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