On January 28, 2020, the Maine Downtown Center, a program of Maine Development Foundation (MDF), announced awards for three standout projects and individuals for their efforts during 2020 to enhance and support downtown revitalization in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, recession, and pursuit of racial justice.
The awards were given out during a virtual ceremony this morning which also featured a keynote speech by Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
“We are so happy to celebrate these projects that were bright spots amidst the heaviness of 2020,” said Anne Ball, Senior Program Director for MDF’s Maine Downtown Center (MDC). “These awards highlight the resilience, ingenuity, and creativity of individuals, small business owners, and community organizations who are keeping our downtown economies – and morale – vibrant despite challenges on many fronts.”
The MDF team gathered nominations during a competitive process, and selected these winners:
- Downtown Project Award: The Saco Scoop, a project of Saco Main Street, for providing a community hub, a sustainable funding source for the Main Street organization, workforce trainings, and practicing the Main Street Four Point Approach every day in the work they do;
- Downtown Hero Award: MacKenzie Cayford, who started as a Brew Fest Volunteer and has grown into being a community and organizational leader as well as a board member and committee chair of Main Street Skowhegan, all while working for a downtown small business and starting her own business, Crown & Root; and
- Innovation Award: Beacon Park in downtown Bath for providing a COVID-safe community indoor space which was developed quickly to fulfill an immediate downtown need as the weather got colder. The space was developed through a partnership between City of Bath, Main Street Bath, Sagadahoc Real Estate Association, General Dynamics, Bath Iron Works and Union + Co.
“I can genuinely say that the extreme feeling of worth that comes from volunteering is like none other,” says MacKenzie Cayford, MDC’s Maine Downtown Hero Awardee.
“For me, volunteering in Skowhegan has been an additional outlet for my creativity. I am trusted, appreciated, and able to help make things happen in the right direction. Above everything else, experiencing the heartwarming reactions of our community members and event attendees puts you on the type of cloud that you only experience when you know that you have done something good- it is priceless,” she added.
During her keynote speech to the virtual audience, Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, focused on why independent small businesses are so important to Maine, our downtowns, local culture, and sense of place – especially now.
“As challenging as this past year has been, it’s also marked a turning point. Congress and federal antitrust agencies started moving to break up the outsized power of corporate giants like Amazon and adopt policies to better support Main Street businesses. These are exciting developments for Maine downtown communities that could open up promising opportunities for stabilizing and growing our local economies in the years ahead,” she said.
The Maine Downtown Center Awards serve as inspiration statewide for communities and individuals working on downtown revitalization. They recognize outstanding efforts in communities which are part of MDF’s Maine Downtown Center (MDC) program.
Photo of Saco, Maine courtesy of Main Street Maine.