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October 1, 2018
Next 2018

Next 2018: Christina Kane-Gibson brings new energy to expanding Caribou's economy

PHOTo / Fred Field
PHOTo / Fred Field
Christina Kane-Gibson, who became Caribou's events and marketing director in 2017, has launched several initiatives intended to boost Caribou's economic potential as a cultural hub.

Christina Kane-Gibson

Events and marketing director City of Caribou

City of Caribou

55 Bennett Drive, Caribou

Incorporated (city): 1967

What the organization does: Economic development and building collaborative relationships between business owners, cultural institutions and the city council

Contact: 207-493-5319 www.cariboumaine.org

Christina Kane-Gibson became the city of Caribou's events and marketing director in spring 2017. Working 60-plus hours a week, she's coordinating programs, seeking grants and communicating with and supporting businesses. Initiatives include creating a downtown development group and coordinating events that bring together businesses and cultural organizations.

Mainebiz: You're a Caribou native who worked in promotions and marketing in Texas, including for the city of Hutto. What brought you back to Caribou?

Christina Kane-Gibson: Serving a municipality taught me the importance of clear communication, civic education and citizen participation. I was inspired by my mentors in the city manager's office. It was through them I realized I could contribute to the city of Caribou. Furthermore, I wanted my family to experience life in the County.

MB: What are your goals here?

CKG: Caribou deserves recognition as a cultural hub with huge economic potential. Goal No. 1 — growing Caribou as a thriving economic engine — is two-fold. I want to help entrepreneurs, new and established, realize their visions in a supportive community. I want to assist local groups like the Caribou Economic Growth Council and the Business Investment Group to incubate fresh business opportunities.

The second goal is about further establishing Caribou as a tourism destination. We boast four seasons, three nations – America, Canada and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs — two languages, English and French, and one fantastic way of life. Developing a strategy to market it all is a challenge I gladly accept. Having state-level events in Caribou like the Moose Lottery and BikeMaine helps us establish ourselves as a big player in Maine's destination tourism market.

MB: Challenges facing Caribou?

CKG: Outward migration. We can do more by way of mentorships with local businesses and hands-on training to show County kids that opportunities abound right here. Another challenge is change. Pulling the trigger on new ideas or spending money on an economic endeavor doesn't come without risk.

MB: How do you tackle those challenges?

CKG: The biggest way to overcome any obstacle is to understand it. I've met half a dozen people just this summer who moved to Caribou. I encourage them to tell me their stories, because I aim to understand the driving factor that brought them here. Knowing why families choose Caribou helps us strengthen features that make us unique and know how to market those features.

MB: Any further plans?

CKG: Pursuit of Main Street Affiliate status through the Maine Downtown Center of the Maine Development Foundation. We hope to embrace the "four-points" approach of Main Street America [economic vitality, design, promotion and organization]. That will help us create and implement a plan for downtown and beyond, with training for local business owners. I'm also slated to be part of the Leadership Maine 2019 class, which will allow me to explore Maine's regions, assets and economies. The alumni network will help me forge lasting relationships for the city. I'll also continue to build relationships across Aroostook. We stand stronger as a region, especially for our destination tourism ambitions.

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