Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission Executive Director, Paul Schumacher retires this summer. Courtesy photo/Raegan Young

SACO — After 27 years, Paul Schumacher is stepping down as executive director of Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC) this summer. The SMPDC board is conducting a nationwide search for his replacement. The agency, founded in 1964, provides planning and economic development services to municipalities in Southern Maine — working on land use, smart growth, resource management, environmental sustainability, and transportation planning, according to a commission statement.

Schumacher says the nonprofit is thriving and he feels confident about its future; “We have some of the most highly skilled, diverse and energetic people I have ever seen at any organization, along with the resources to help them flourish. It is a wonderful confluence of personalities and talent and I am gratified to have been a part of it over the years. For me, it’s particularly rewarding to see the impact on our member communities in York County and parts of southern Oxford County.”

Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission has grown substantially under Schumacher’s leadership, according to the statement. There are now 15 employees working out of the Saco office, up from just seven at the start of 2020. SMPDC’s brownfields revolving loan program grew from a $200,000 grant in 2005, to now having received over $15 million in funds, which have been invested in underutilized and hazardous sites across the region. In some cases, it fostered dramatic redevelopment — as with Biddeford’s renaissance.

Until 2013, the region’s economic development planning was housed outside of the agency. After several years of Schumacher’s advocacy, SMPDC was designated as its own Economic Development District by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, establishing a consistent source of economic development funds for the region. Most recently, the creation of SMPDC’s Regional Sustainability and Resilience program in 2020 and the addition of expert staff to lead it, has led to nearly $6 million in leveraged funds for addressing resilience and climate change in the region. The program has become a model for other regional planning organizations seeking to support their communities facing climate change. “Providing land use planning assistance to municipalities has been a mainstay of the agency’s focus for decades but now that effort includes sharing expertise on affordable housing, broadband expansion, and transportation improvements,” Schumacher said.

Amy Landry, executive director with Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments who has worked with Schumacher for over 25 years, said, “Paul Schumacher’s leadership and historic knowledge of the economic development efforts in Maine will be missed. But for me personally, it will be a tremendous loss: Paul is a one-of-a-kind colleague who is always supportive, generous, and affable. He’s the rare leader who takes the work seriously but is always good humored while doing so.” Both Landry and Schumacher also served consecutive terms as president of the Economic Development Council of Maine.

Jan Williams, chairman of the SMPDC board, also applauded Schumacher; “Paul is leaving a tremendous legacy. He, and his colleague Chuck Morgan, pioneered the use of government funds to clean up contaminated industrial sites in Maine all those years ago. It’s unlikely it would have happened without him. Since then he has been creative and relentless in developing new ways to encourage economic development in Southern Maine.”

Prior to joining SMPDC in 1996, Schumacher worked as a town planner in several southern Maine towns and also at a consulting firm on Cape Cod. Paul has a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s Degree in Urban/Environmental Policy from Tufts University. His retirement will begin this summer.

The selection process for a new executive direct at SMPCD is underway; to learn more, interested applicants should visit

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