We Mainers love our curmudgeons; sometimes just for the challenge of getting them to smile. John Frary recently celebrated his curmudgeonliness in his March 9 column, “Michaud’s grand plan harvested selectively from Brookings report.”

In this piece, Frary says “Charting Maine’s Future,” the Brookings report, “seems to have sunk without a trace.” Oh, but that’s not true!

I’d welcome Frary join hundreds of other Mainers at the GrowSmart Maine Summit 2014 at the Augusta Civic Center on Oct. 21 to see how the Brookings report, which was commissioned by GrowSmart Maine, continues to inspire action across Maine.

Frary outlines the portions of Congressman and Democratic candidate for governor Mike Michaud’s economic development plan that build on some of the ideas proposed in “Charting Maine’s Future.” Independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler’s “A State of Opportunity” also features strategies that are part of the report’s action plan, even noting the connection in the foreword to his plan.

Frary further describes how even Gov. Paul LePage embraced portions of the report’s action plan, focusing on those that improve the efficiency of all levels of government in Maine. These issues, by the way, were further fleshed out with the 2010 release of “Reinventing Maine Government,” funded by GrowSmart Maine and produced by Envision Maine.

So it is clear that the Brookings Report has not sunk but is really quite buoyant, still relevant and very much in play under the Capitol dome and in communities across Maine. And perhaps like these three men, each of us is drawn to the parts with which we most feel connected. The key to success for all of Maine, of course, is in the combination of these actions. We all recognize, however, that our unique quality places are a big part of what makes Maine special and can and should be a foundation for our economic development strategies.


Frary notes that “Charting Maine’s Future” was the subject of great engagement and attention following its 2006 release. Bills were passed, policies put in place and funds invested, both public and private, to make things happen. All this was the subject of GrowSmart Maine’s 2012 update, “Charting Maine’s Future: Making Headway.”

This update includes a scorecard to measure the impact of policies, projects and investments across Maine. More importantly, we highlight six lessons learned, captured in interviews with 70 Mainers who discussed what worked, what didn’t and why. These lessons may seem basic and yet are worthy of attention as people across the state work to make a difference.

This year, GrowSmart Maine is taking the action plan in “Charting Maine’s Future” one step further, bringing it back to the community level, because local ownership of ideas and actions is essential to long-term success. When complete, “Making Headway in Your Community,” will connect Mainers with the resources they need to make a difference in their towns. Great ideas provide inspiration, but we often need help to know where and how to get started. This clearinghouse of resources will be released at GrowSmart Maine’s October summit, where 500 Mainers will be inspired by keynote speakers and, through strategic breakout sessions, connect with the tools and expertise to bring ideas to life in their own hometowns.

Encouraging more smart growth throughout Maine will strengthen our economy without sacrificing those unique quality places that make this place home. Ultimately, it will allow our children and their children more opportunities to choose Maine as their home, too.

If that doesn’t make Frary smile, I’ll guarantee our closing reception will. But more on that later.

Nancy E. Smith is executive director of GrowSmart Maine, growsmartmaine.org

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