17 years ago

When the Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee (PIDRC) began its operation in 2006, one of the first things we did was a S.W.O.T. analysis. For those who may not know what that is, it is basically a study of an area’s key Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. We felt that it was extremely important for us glean this information to define what we had to work with and what we had to work on.
    Although Presque Isle has numerous strengths, we listed six. Strong work ethic and a low unemployment rate was one of them. It’s not uncommon to hear positive comments about our work ethic throughout the state.
Our Main Street being along a major corridor, Route 1, was also listed as a strength and speaks to the possibility of future increase in foot traffic downtown. Multiple entries to Main Street was also listed, implying the possibility of people from neighboring areas having excellent access to our downtown. Citizens of Presque Isle also have many routes through which they can access Main Street businesses and activities. Our core of churches and banks close to the downtown make them easy to find, and provide a variety of avenues for people to worship, as well as do business.
The two colleges that reside in our city are a great boon, as is our airport. Every year we have an influx of students who would support downtown activity, and if Main Street were to offer them an active, clean, welcoming place to live, they might even make Presque Isle their home. Having an airport really speaks for itself, as it brings new people to the area, hopefully taking positive experiences back home and encouraging friends and relatives to visit the area. And, we have great recreational activities, such as skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, and boating in the area, to entice these people.
In addition to, or perhaps because of, these strengths, weaknesses, and threats, we defined six areas of opportunity. The first area is to not only develop new downtown businesses, but to support and strengthen businesses that already reside on Main Street. It’s important to promote new businesses that complement, not compete with, current downtown businesses. At the time we did the S.W.O.T. analysis, we recognized the importance of a movie theater on our Main Street, and, thanks to the efforts of many people, the Braden Theater is now being renovated. That opportunity has been realized.
We have the opportunity to promote facade improvement. We can all identify buildings on Main Street that would look significantly more attractive if their facades were cleaned and fixed up. There is an opportunity for banks, organizations, and other investors to purchase certain buildings as investments. Some of these buildings could be renovated, some would need to be razed and the area recreated. But what an opportunity for economic development! Code development and/or reinforcement is another, very important route through which we can revitalize our downtown. And the improvement of directional, regulatory demarcation of streets, parking areas, and storefront/business signage could be very helpful in bringing people back to the downtown that we all know and love.
To make a long story short, Main Street Presque Isle is like a surfer on the crest of a wave. That wave is economic development and the name on the surfboard is Opportunity. It will hold us up as long as we use it. We need to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us today. We don’t want our downtown to fall into the sea and drown by ignoring current opportunities. We have a group of motivated, energetic volunteers who want to revitalize our downtown. We have a city government that has indicated its continued support for us and a strong willingness to partner with us. We have a Chamber of Commerce that is available to help new businesses get started in our downtown. Many local businesses have indicated strong support, as well. And we have a direction to go in.
Together, if we take advantage of the strengths and opportunities presented to us today, we will be able to realize a more economically and socially energetic Main Street.
By the way, not many people did their homework from the last article. Print these questions out and while you’re relaxing on your porch at camp, or sitting in the bleachers watching a softball game, come up with some answers that you feel are important. We welcome your thoughts. Here is a repeat of the “assignment” – Homework time: We would like to have your input. There are three questions we would like to have your opinions on:
• What are the most important things that could happen downtown?
• What are some of the obstacles to improving our downtown?
• How can we work more closely together as a community to attain these goals?
Please e-mail your answers to us at pidrc@yahoo.com, or write to us at the address listed below. Remember, this is your community, too.
You can write us at: The Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee, 411 Main St., Presque Isle, Maine 04769, or you can e-mail us at pidrc@yahoo.com.
You can get more information about the PIDRC or join us by calling Sandy Gauvin (764-0876), Cathy Beaulieu at Wilder’s Jewelry Store (764-0309), or Patty LeBlanc (769-7731), or you can contact us through the information listed below. We meet at the Presque Isle Area Chamber of Commerce on the Houlton Road at 7:30 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month. We invite you to join in our efforts to help our wonderful city.
The Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee is an ad hoc committee of the Presque Isle City Council