PITTSFIELD — When Gov. Paul LePage announced the launch of the Business Friendly Community Designation Program last month, there was a flurry of interest from communities.

More than 100 applications were downloaded from the Department of Economic and Community Development the first week and dozens of town officials contacted the agency for more information.

But as of Thursday, there were only eight completed applications for Andrea Smith, the development program manager for the agency.

One of them is from the town of Pittsfield.

Following Town Council approval Tuesday night, Pittsfield Town Manager Kathryn Ruth submitted an application complete with endorsements from business owners Don and Jane Woodruff of Lancey Associates; Apple Mountain LLC, the owner of the town’s shopping plaza; and Robert Phelan, co-owner of Vittles’ Restaurant.

“It was quite a process and I don’t think there are a lot of towns of our size applying,” Ruth told the Town Council Tuesday night. “But we’ll give it a shot.” Pittsfield’s population is 4,215, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Ruth said that there are several areas on the application where the town excels, including the permitting process.

“When we realigned our permitting process in 2004 and took out all the requirements that were just duplicates of state law, we cut the number of permits needed (to open a business) by 43 percent,” Ruth said.

Mayor Timothy Nichols agreed that the designation would be “good publicity for the town. Kathy (Ruth) certainly put a lot of work into this application.”

Communities are graded quarterly, and the designees receive recognition on the development agency’s website, an award presented by the governor and an “Open for Business” sign.

Smith said that she expects a lot more applications by the deadline today. “We’ve had inquiries from communities of all sizes. But I think there was a pretty short timeline between the governor’s announcement and the deadline for the first round of awards, so we weren’t really expecting a lot of applications,” Smith said.

The forms will go to a review panel next week and the awards will be announced “in about two or three weeks,” Smith added.

Tom Auger, owner of Somerset Plaza, wrote on his letter endorsing Pittsfield’s application that he has always found town officials “extremely helpful and supportive. When the plaza has space available, the town assists in advertising the vacancies and works with the business prospects.”

Auger also said that he is working with the town on “attracting a business to Somerset Plaza that will result in an expansion of the facilities” and said that any permitting needed for the firm “will be as streamlined as possible.”

The Woodruffs own 133 North Laney St., a former grammar school converted into professional office space. Jane Woodruff wrote that “the work the town has done has brought multiple tenants for us.”

Phelan said that the community “has welcomed Vittles with open arms and we have been happy with our business decision.”

Pittsfield’s largest employers are UTC Fire and Security, Sebasticook Valley Hospital and Cianbro with around 300 workers each. Cianbro’s workforce is more than 2,000, but 300-350 usually work in Pittsfield.

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