Portland turns to cyberspace for planning input | News

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Portland turns to cyberspace for planning input
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The city of Portland has embarked on a year-long process to draft a comprehensive economic development plan and has turned to the world wide web to solicit insights and ideas.

"What Portland has historically not done is really create a blueprint, a road map, for the types of businesses and industries it wants to attract," explained the city's director of economic development Greg Mitchell.  "Without the clarity of policy direction in a formal way adopted and accepted by different groups, it leaves it open to decision making at any point in time."

So at the beginning of the year, the city brought in a group of grad students from MIT to study the city's economy.  Armed with that information, the city's Economic Development Department has teamed up with the Portland Chamber of Commerce and Creative Portland to work on creating a plan that will guide business development and investment for the next couple of decades.

"This is about capitalizing on Portland's strengths, and its unique strengths, to attract more people to live here," said Mitchell.  "[The plan will] support business growth and development of the workforce, but to also be very focused on the types of industries that we want to pursue."

"We really want people's input on the process," said Jack Lufkin, a member of the Chamber of Commerce who has been heavily involved in the process.  "There have been a lot of studies done which tell us to do X, Y and Z with this piece of infrastructure, with that community asset, but really we are looking to weave all of these plans together into one comprehensive whole."

To reach people who don't have the time or desire to attend formal meetings, the city has created a website, Facebook page and even a Twitter feed to get people to participate.

WEB: Portland Economic Development Plan

"Having the ability to post something on Facebook may free a lot of people up to share their ideas who otherwise may not want to do that," explained Lufkin. 

The city will be posting questions and soliciting feedback to help craft the plan with a goal of having the plan drafted by the end of the year. 

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