GARDINER — GrowSmart Maine, an organization that works with towns across the state to promote sustainable economic development, last week moved its offices from Portland to Gardiner.

The group is now paying $400 a month for a private office on the third floor of 117 Water St., a co-working space that’s leased and operated by the Gardiner Main Street program and available for a range of groups and functions.

The low rent was one reason for the move said Nancy Smith, executive director of GrowSmart Maine. The group had a six-year lease on its office in Portland that ended this year, and it would have had to pay $1,200 a month to continue in the same spot.

But there are several other reasons why GrowSmart Maine chose Gardiner as its new home.

For one thing, the group’s mission is to work with rural Maine towns that are trying to attract economic development without losing any of their authenticity of character. Throughout the year, Smith and other staff travel to towns such as Biddeford, Eastport and Bucksport to hold community workshops, so being more centrally located makes sense.

But GrowSmart was also attracted to downtown Gardiner and to the co-working space in particular.


The space, which is known as Gardiner’s Co-Lab, is available for both organizations or individuals, whether they want to stay for a couple days or a couple months, according to Patrick Wright, executive director of Gardiner Main Street.

The space has wireless internet, a color printer, a mailing address, a conference room and a variety of nooks and desks. Its amenities can be rented for as little as $25 a day or $50 a month.

Beyond the efficiency of the space, Smith said she likes that the co-lab exposes her to other people who use the space, whether they’re Main Street Gardiner staff such as Wright, professionals just passing through or the resident artist who has a small studio there.

It also allows Smith to get out and explore downtown Gardiner, she said.

Wright, who also has a private office in the co-lab, said he too appreciates the serendipitous encounters that occur in the communal working space.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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