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October 31, 2019

Millennial leaders featured in new Central Maine Growth Council project

A montage of photos of diverse young professionals Courtesy / Central Maine Growth Council A montage of those featured in the Central Maine Growth Council's MIllennials Investing in Mid-Maine project.

Millennial business leaders and entrepreneurs in the Waterville area are highlighted in a just-launched project of the Central Maine Growth Council.

The Milliennials Invested in Mid-Maine Project profiles millennial leaders was created by CMGC Development Coordinator Elaine Theriault-Currier, and features leaders in real estate development, culinary arts, culture, technology and community engagement. The project highlights contributors to Waterville's recent resurgence who aren't necessarily in the spotlight, according to the CMGC.

“As a rural city, Waterville is fortunate to be bucking the statewide trend of population decline —the city has grown nearly 6% in eight years," Theriault-Currier told Mainebiz Thursday. "Many are familiar with the large revitalization efforts that are generating the population growth, so we wanted to highlight the complementary efforts of the region’s young leaders and entrepreneurs who are investing their own time, energy and capital to strengthen and sustain the vibrance of our region.

"Moreover, we are highlighting the opportunities Waterville offers young leaders that aren’t possible in larger cities – the region’s affordability allows young millennials to capitalize on ground-level investments and pursue their aspirations," she said.

With the leadership of those profiled in the project, "the revitalization of Waterville retains authenticity and sustainability," a news release about the project said. "It is a movement bolstered by locals who want to see their community thrive and are willing to put capital and sweat equity into realizing that vision. They are in it for the long-term, creating a better city for their future generations to enjoy."

The project is compiled on the CMPG's website where full interviews with those featured can be found. Here are some excerpts on a few of the many featured:

The real estate developers

Tom Nale and Tracy Nale Sewall, attorneys at Nale & Nale Law, recently bought the Arnold Block on Main Street in downtown Waterville.

Quote: “Most of what we hear is that young, educated people are leaving rural Maine, but it’s important to see that many are staying here and investing — it can be done.”

The tastemakers

Ryan and Candice Flaherty opened Waterville’s first microbrewery, Waterville Brewing Co.

Quote: “[Downtown Waterville] was shabby, there were a lot of vacancies,” said Candice Flaherty. “But when we had kids, Waterville started to turn over a new leaf. We thought, ‘let’s stay and build something here.’” 

David Gulak and Josh Sullivan, co-owners of Meridians and Meridians Kitchen & Bar, in Fairfield, are leading the culinary revival in the town next door to Waterville.

Quote: “Central Mainers don’t get the credit they deserve. There’s a defeatist attitude that people won’t pay for quality, but we’ve found the opposite to be true here. You just need to have faith, put in all your effort, and focus on customer service.”

The creators

Tamsen Warner is the youngest person to serve as executive director of Waterville Opera House. 

Quote: “We have something really unique here with Waterville Creates! There are only a few organizations like it in North America. Waterville is a small town, but it has amazing arts assets. The caliber is super high for a rural setting."

The innovators

Caitlin Bacon is an integral part of Waterville’s emerging technology sector, rising through the ranks at CGI to become head of operations for the New England Business Unit in just two years.

Quote: “The IT field is so broad, that you can literally work from anywhere. That’s one great thing about the revitalization of Waterville — we are bringing back the excitement to the city and making people want to visit, work, and live here. Since revitalizations don’t happen overnight, it’s been a struggle to get people from outside the area, specifically out of Maine, to want to come live and work here. Once they experienced the town and what we have to offer, we’ve had some great talent relocate here and remain in the area!”

The engagers

The co-chairs of KV Connect, Molly Woodward (of New Dimensions FCU) and Sam Burdick (of GHM Agency and The Elm), are passionate about getting young people in greater Waterville involved in their community.

Quote: “I love the camaraderie — it’s ours. We do this. It gives us a part of the growth in Waterville.”

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