WATERVILLE — City officials Tuesday night will discuss a plan to promote economic development in the region without hiring a new economic development director for the city.

The council workshop will be held at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown.

City Manager Michael Roy said the discussion will be about the city’s continuing support of the Central Maine Growth Council, but with a change in how the Growth Council is administered.

“Instead of hiring our own economic development director, we would contract with the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce for some of those services,” Roy said. “The Growth Council will be part of the Chamber. We’ve always had a strong connection with the Chamber, but the (former) executive director of the Growth Council, Darryl Sterling, was working for us.”

Sterling left his position last year. He had earned about $72,000 annually and worked out of his office in the chamber building on Elm Street.

A new person will be hired for Sterling’s former position, but it will be under the organizational umbrella of the chamber, and the city will contract with the chamber for his services, according to Roy.

“A one-person staff is not adequate for meeting the economic development needs of the region,” Roy said. ” A one-person staff is a recipe for failure.”

He said contracting with the chamber will help increase the Growth Council’s membership, and the chamber would oversee the new Growth Council director’s payroll and insurances.

The city contributes $30,000 a year to the Growth Council, with those funds being approved by the City Council. The city’s fiscal year is from July 1 to June 30, and the city has made one $15,000 payment to the Growth Council. It was to have paid another $15,000 Jan. 1, but Roy said he did not want to pay it until he knew the Growth Council had changed the way it did business, in other words, until it had come under the chamber’s purview.

“I wanted to make sure the City Council understood we still have the Growth Council and still want to hire a director, but we would contract with the Chamber for a bunch of stuff we were not getting before, such as development, someone to go into businesses to explain the benefits of being in the Growth Council and getting more businesses to participate and support the Growth Council financially,” Roy said.

Roy said he has invited town managers and council chairmen from Winslow and Fairfield to Tuesday’s workshop. He also has invited Kimberly Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, and John Dalton, chairman of the Growth Council’s board of directors. Dalton also is president of Inland Hospital.

As she prepared to leave office last month, former Mayor Karen Heck called for a “more efficient” way of encouraging more economic development in Waterville, citing the existence of several groups sharing responsibility for various aspects of the region’s economic development in their missions.

“Not everyone has to have the answer to every question.” she said. “There has been no real coordination strategy session, that I can tell, that’s gone on.”

The Growth Council is supported by dues from Waterville, Winslow and Fairfield, as well as by businesses and private donations from institutions such as Inland and Colby College, according to Roy. He said Winslow and Fairfield each contribute between $12,000 and $15,000 annually to the Growth Council.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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