Kennebunk is advertising for an individual to take on the role of director of economic vitality. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK – The town has begun advertising for a director of economic vitality.

Kennebunk is looking someone who works with community stakeholders, the Economic Development Committee, municipal leadership, and others “to develop strong community connections, retain and expand existing businesses, attract new ones and promote Kennebunk’s value as a desirable business location,” said Town Manager Heather Balser.

“I see this as a critical position for the town,” said Balser, a Maine native who came to Kennebunk from Colorado earlier this year, where she worked in municipal management for more than 25 years.

It is an existing position with a new name,  based to a degree on the economic development model, with modifications.

“Economic vitality speaks more to the long-term economic sustainability of the town,” Balser said.

The director would design and manage strategies, programs and outreach that support the town’s vision for sustainable economic vitality and development, according to an ad for the position, which noted the director is often the initial point of contact on economic vitality and development initiatives. It does on to say the position requires strong communication, problem-solving, and negotiation skills with the ability to listen closely and work well within a team environment.


Balser noted the director of economic vitality also collaborates with town staff to help businesses navigate through municipal policies and processes.

The town is looking for someone with a minimum of five years’ experience in  economic vitality and sustainability, economic development, grant writing, finance, commercial lending, advertising, marketing, marketing research and collection, real estate; and project management, the ad notes. Kennebunk is looking for someone with a degree in business administration, finance, marketing, or related field. The salary range is about $89,000 – $108,000, according to the advertisement.

Kennebunk has been without a full-time economic development director since 2017, when Matthew Eddy, who had held the position since 2013, moved to another community. There was a contracted economic developer for a time, and later, the community advertised for a part-timer, but that effort did not result in a hiring and existing staff in other departments have been pitching in. There was a pause to determine what sort of position was needed, municipal officials said, and since it became apparent there would be a new town manger, the select board decided to wait until she arrived.

Kate Dufour, who works in advocacy and communications for the Maine Municipal Association, said communities need people in the role.

“Local economic development efforts are vital to our communities, regions, and state,” said Dufour. “If not for the work that occurs locally, far less state sales and income tax revenue would be collected. This is one of the reasons that continued support for the state-municipal revenue sharing program is essential. ”

“Just because there are more jobs than employees, doesn’t mean communities should stop discussing and deciding how best to deliver services and plan for their futures,” Dufour said in response to a question about the topic. “Municipal leaders, business owners and residents should be trusted to make the investments they believe are necessary.”

Kennebunk began advertising for the position March 6 and just a few days in had “a few” applications, said Balser. Applications are due March 24.

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