WATERVILLE — Jennifer Olsen is leaving Waterville Main Street on Jan. 1, confident the organization and Waterville are poised to do great things.

“Main Street workers — we work to enhance communities, generally, that are struggling,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be involved in a community to witness the turn. It feels like a graduation. Waterville is in this great place and the trajectory is clear, and I’m ready for a new adventure.”

Olsen, 51, has been executive director of Waterville Main Street since 2012. For the last couple of years she worked with city and business leaders, as well as Colby College President David Greene, to help identify what Waterville needs and work toward solutions.

Colby over the last few months has bought four downtown buildings with the intention of finding investors and renovating them. A boutique hotel, housing for college students and staff and new businesses are some of the ideas that were discussed for the buildings.

Greene also helped to convince Collaborative Consulting, a technology firm based in Massachusetts, to open a site in Waterville that is expected to bring 200 jobs to the city.

Olsen said those developments leave the city in a great spot to grow and thrive.

“Certainly, Colby’s investment, certainly Collaborative Consulting, certainly the work around health and well-being — because we’re a health care center as well as a college town — and Thomas College’s growth.”

Olsen said she is sad to leave Waterville Main Street.

“But I promised my daughter I would say this phrase: ‘There’s a jewel in the teardrop.'”

Olsen, who was Main Street Skowhegan’s executive director before coming to Waterville, said she plans to take a break before moving into anything new.

“I love Waterville. I’m still sticking around.” she said.

A graduate of Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, where she majored in international studies, Olsen enrolled in the fall in graduate school at Thomas College and is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. She came to Waterville in 2012 after holding the same post at Main Street Skowhegan. Before that, she was director of the chamber of commerce in Millinocket.

June L’Heureux, office manager for Waterville Main Street since 2003, will continue to run the office until the Board of Directors decides how to fill Olsen’s spot.

Charlie Giguere, president of the board, said Friday the transition will be a smooth one.

“We are fortunate to have June on our Waterville Main Street team,” he said in an email. “Given her years of dedication and proven expertise, our programs, events and Main Street initiatives will continue to move forward.”

L’Heureux, 63, started working at the office part time while her children — two of whom are now doctors and one, a chemical engineer — were young. She is familiar with all operations of Waterville Main Street, which organizes many community events, including the annual Maine Open Juried Art Show, Kringleville and the parade of lights, Harvest Fest, and the wreath and flower box programs.

L’Heureux, whose husband, Dan, is town manager of China, loves her job.

“I do like it. That’s why I’m still here,” she said. “I grew up in Waterville. My father was a police officer. He walked the beat. Waterville Main Street is just going to continue with everything that’s going on. I’m looking forward to it. It’s just an exciting time to be working at Waterville Main Street.”

Olsen said that in the three years she has worked with L’Heureux, she has seen her grow and develop and take on new responsibilities.

“I’m so proud of her,” Olsen said.

The office moved two years ago from a first-floor space at 177 Main St. next to Selah Tea to a second-floor office at 44 Main St.

Olsen’s wish for the future of the organization is that people remain invested and involved.

Giguere agrees. “Our goal is to collaborate and coordinate with the city, the Mid-Maine Chamber, Waterville Creates and other nonprofits dedicated to promoting our city and our downtown,” he said.

L’Heureux said her hope is that “the community continues to be involved and feel good about itself into the future.”

L’Heureux, a Thomas College graduate who was clerk of courts for Waterville District Court before coming to Waterville Main Street, said she is excited about what that future holds.

“I’m looking forward to two years from today, just to see how much progress we’ve made,” she said. “I cannot wait.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 

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