Pittsfield is among the five additional communities earning the state’s business-friendly designation, which is meant to spur economic development.

The announcement was made Monday by Gov. Paul Lepage and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

“All of these communities are focused on creating a better environment for private-sector job growth and driving our economy forward by reducing red tape and being open for business,” Lepage said.

Pittsfield Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said she is excited about the new opportunities that the certification represents.

“The state recognition will be helpful to the community in business attraction,” she said.

Pittsfield’s proposal was rejected early this summer, but resubmitted its application with additional information.

The designation was a result of a broader pro-business shift Pittsfield has been working on for almost a decade, Ruth said.

“In 2003, the town made a commitment to its businesses and residents to revamp the entire economic development program,” Ruth said.

Changes included simplifying zoning agreements and regulations, applying for federal grants, providing affordable loans to business owners, encouraging citizen involvement in business-promotion efforts and focusing on key sectors of strengths such as precision manufacturing, technology and wood products.

Each community that applied for certification was evaluated by a panel of business experts that looked at several facets of the town’s business climate.

Lepage first announced the Business-Friendly Community initiative in March as part of a wider push to boost business and economic development throughout the state.

The Department of Economic and Community Development said that the program is working, citing a “top state for business” ranking from CNBC television that moved Maine ahead five places from 40th in 2011 to 35th in 2012.

The other communities named to the list Monday are Auburn, Cumberland, Lewiston and Westbrook. Nine communities were named to the list earlier summer, including Augusta, the only other central Maine community.


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