GARDINER — A city-based bank has tentatively earmarked $125,000 for economic development, and members of the city business community will present a preliminary plan to the City Council tonight on how they would use and match the money.

Representatives from the bank, Gardiner Main Street, the Gardiner Board of Trade and private businesspeople will attend the meeting, according to Nate Cotnoir, president of the Gardiner Main Street Board of Directors and vice president of commercial lending at Bank of Maine.

Cotnoir said the project is at “an idea stage.”

The money being contemplated would be a matching, challenge grant.

“It signifies that the bank is willing to come to the table on this,” Cotnoir said.

But Cotnoir warned, “There are several moving parts to discuss before the bank finalizes this.”

Patrick Wright, executive director of Gardiner Main Street, said discussions have been ongoing throughout the year on a public-private partnership to increase business retention and aid existing downtown businesses.

Wright said he didn’t know what form the Bank of Maine gift would take — that would have to be finalized after gaining City Council support.

He said programs “to take the risk out” of doing business downtown would be favored.

Mayor Andrew MacLean said economic hardship has affected the downtown business community. Two mainstays, A1 To Go and Moda Bella, announced recently they will be closing.

According to MacLean, he and City Manager Scott Morelli have seen a short preview of the Gardiner Maine Street presentation.

“We’re extremely disappointed at the losses of A1 To Go and Moda Bella,” MacLean said. “There’s no question that, in this environment, we need to be very aggressive in recruiting businesses.”

The workshop is scheduled to take place at 6 tonight at Gardiner City Hall on Church Street, preceding a regular council meeting.

Michael Shepherd — 621-5662

[email protected]

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