The local chamber of commerce has identified Fairfield Town Manager Josh Reny as the area’s Rising Star of the year.
The award is given annually by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce to a local chamber member who is less than 40 years old and illustrates a combination of business success and community involvement as a leader within a business organization.
Reny, 33, said the award reflects recent success of Fairfield as a whole, which has been dependent on a large group of people.
“With the Town Council and the economic development committee, I think we have a group of people who want to see the town grow and change for the better,” he said. “I’m basically the staffer that is helping that group work toward their vision.”
Since Reny became town manager in 2011, the town has been awarded four significant grants, including a Community Development Block Grant that helped pave the way for the $6.5 million renovation of the Gerald Hotel into senior housing.
“There are a lot of things happening in the downtown area,” Reny said. “Some are percolating and some have happened.”
Reny said that, with a population of about 6,700, Fairfield is just the right size for a town manager to have a major effect.
“In larger towns, we might have our own economic development director,” he said. “In towns smaller than ours, they might not have the staff or the resources to allow the town manager to play that kind of role.”
Under Reny’s leadership, the town also has held taxes flat for three years and rebuilt a fund balance that had been dangerously low.
“I feel we’ve done things to get town government in a much stronger financial position,” he said, “but I’m just such a small part of this.”
Chamber director Bruce Harrington, who also lives in Fairfield, said Reny deserves much of the credit for the town’s recent achievements.
“He has been instrumental in the economic development activities in town,” he said.
Before being hired as town manager, Reny was Fairfield’s economic development director, a position that has been eliminated since then. He also has served in the Air National Guard for the past 14 years, and he takes time off each year for deployments.
He was born and raised in Fairfield, where he lives with his wife and his daughter.
After graduating from Lawrence High School in 1999, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and a master’s degree in public policy and management from the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.
In announcing the award, the chamber cited Reny’s involvement in the community through positions on the board of the Central Maine Growth Council, the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and other committees.
This is the second time in less than a year that Reny has been singled out for his leadership. In August, he was named as the Rookie Manager of the Year by the Maine Town, City and County Management Association.
Reny said he appreciates it and is honored to be recognized, but the principles behind the town’s success are fairly simple.
“It’s about long-term planning and making the environment that would encourage development or redevelopment,” he said. “Whether that’s through proper planning and having programs in place, TIF districts or loans or grant programs, you incentivize future development.”
Reny will be recognized at the awards dinner, scheduled for Tuesday, April 29 at the Elks banquet hall in Waterville.