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Updated: January 25, 2021 From the Editor

From the Editor: Even amid the crazy past year, housing remained a major story

After all the country has gone through, from the pandemic to social unrest to political turmoil, Maine somehow fortified itself as a safe haven.

People are moving here from New York, Boston, Texas, California. The pandemic has allowed many people to work remotely, and they’re leaving cities and snapping up houses in Maine.

Maine has mostly benefited but has had some growing pains as well. The need for broadband in rural areas is an even-greater issue. Schools in growth areas are seeing an influx of students, even as districts struggle with staffing during the pandemic. A long-standing shortage of housing has only gotten worse.

Maine’s median home price shot up 20% in November, to $270,000, from $225,000 a year ago. That’s great news if you’re a homeowner — or strictly a seller. But for people looking to move up or buy their first home, it’s a challenge. Housing and the need for housing remain hot topics.

That’s why housing is our cover story for the focus on Southern Maine.

As Renee Cordes reports in our cover story, the real estate market is putting pressure on developers and contractors to keep building. Naturally, there’s always conflict between what’s needed and what local municipalities are willing to approve. See “Homeward bound,” which starts on Page 10.

Elsewhere in the issue, Laurie Schreiber writes about a business park in Saco that is attracting a range of businesses, from startups to seasoned firms. For more on Mill Brook Business Park, see “Microcosm of enterprise,” on Page 13.

The pandemic may have shut down Maine’s hospitality industry for a chunk of last year’s tourism season, but, as Maureen Milliken reports, some inns and resorts in York County have taken the lessons of 2020 and plan to apply them to the upcoming summer season. Outdoor dining gazebos and “igloos” and other socially distanced practices are just a few of the ways the hospitality industry is getting ready. See “Resilient hospitality industry ready for the next test,” on Page 16.

See our interview with the new chapter chair of SCORE on Page 19.

Back on the topic of real estate, the list of Maine’s largest residential mortgage lenders is on Page 22.

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