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Updated: February 22, 2021 On the record

On the Record: In Gorham, Kevin Jensen urges businesses to take a walk in the park

Photo / Jim Neuger Kevin Jensen became Gorham’s economic development director in January 2020, moving here from New York City, where he’d spent 10 years in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Kevin Jensen became Gorham’s economic development director in January 2020, moving here from New York City, where he’d spent 10 years in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. He took the position as the town works to enhance its economic footprint. Mainebiz caught up with him to check on how things are going.

Mainebiz: Gorham is developing an industrial park — why such a major undertaking?

Kevin Jensen: The town sees it as an opportunity to play an active role in fostering the type of economic development that aligns with town priorities while also making sure a project of this scale moves forward. The town has had a zero percent occupancy rate in its industrial parks for the last two years. By providing a variety of lot sizes for development, the town hopes a variety of businesses will locate in Gorham.

MB: What is Gorham doing overall to attract business and development?

KJ: With the industrial park, the best thing we’re doing is taking on the state and local permitting process ourselves, which will allow buyers to focus on designing and building what best suits their needs. Overall, our office is focused on being readily available to businesses and developers throughout a project and utilizing all economic incentives available. Our revolving loan fund has been a great tool to support businesses by offering competitive financing for a variety of uses.

MB: In the past few years, Gorham has focused on the village center, why is that important?

KJ: That’s a direct result of community-led efforts by residents to improve the village and help realize its full potential as a vibrant downtown center. It’s about improving walkability and making it easier for people to spend time in the village, which supports businesses and helps ensure long-term town vitality. Groups like Gorham Village Alliance and Gorham Economic Development Corp. recognize the positive benefits to bringing more people to live, work and play in the village. As new business development continues to reshape the village, we’re taking a thoughtful approach toward improving it as a whole.

MB: How do you envision 2026 Gorham?

KJ: Overall, being mentioned often as a place where businesses are thriving, a walkable village with destination retail and dining, and a community that celebrates its agricultural roots and connection to the outdoors. Gorham has one of the most popular trail networks in Maine, and I would love to see more of Maine’s outdoor recreation economy coming here.

MB: What about Gorham first attracted you?

KJ: My first impression of Gorham came at a lunch date at the Blue Pig Diner with my 2-year old daughter. The staff played peek-a-boo with her and it felt like a warm and welcoming town. With the economic development position, it was clear from my interviews they wanted someone who would work hard, get creative and serve in a public-facing role to support the business community. That appealed to me as the next chapter in my career. I’m excited about collaborating more with our friends at USM on events around town, and focusing on business-driven workforce development programs, where I have experience.

MB: You’re new here and bring a unique perspective — what do people overlook or dismiss about Maine?

KJ: The perception of Maine from outside varies from those familiar with the state and its quality of life, opportunity and infinite beauty; and those who may view it as remote and apart from what’s happening in larger metropolitan areas. It seems like I’m always hearing about another Maine-based company that has come up with an innovative solution or product, and I don’t think enough people outside of the state know that about Maine.

MB: How do you like Maine so far?

KJ: I love it. I get asked a lot about making the transition from NYC to Maine; there’s no comparison. I love New York and always will, but there’s a life in Maine that you can’t have in New York City, and that’s been a welcome change for me and my family.

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