There’s a palpable sense of excitement in downtown Waterville these days — call it the energy of progress — and as leaders in both the business and nonprofit realms, we couldn’t be more excited. Main Street is buzzing with a level of activity that communities of our size and location rarely see.

At the north end, the beautiful and historic 173 Main is under renovation and will soon be the home of Collaborative Waterville, which is bringing 200 jobs to our city. Across the street, plans are underway to build an apartment complex that will house Colby students and ground-level retail.

To the south, the site of the storied Levine’s clothing store is being considered as the location for high-end hotel that would serve as a welcoming gateway to downtown. In between, our vibrant arts organizations are hosting thousands of visitors, and new businesses are in place or planned as investors — some from Waterville, some from away — like what they see.

Tonight, a special announcement from Harold Alfond Foundation Chairman Greg Powell will build upon this remarkable progress.

Why Waterville? Why now? We believe the city’s secret sauce is the strong collaboration among civic, philanthropic, educational, nonprofit and business groups. This is a community that values working together and listening to each other in pursuit of progress.

• For years, arts institutions have collaborated tremendously in Waterville, laying a strong foundation for progress as the city evolves.

• The current downtown revitalization process, spurred by Colby investment, has included participation by multiple stakeholders. Open community meetings welcome all citizens to discuss goals and concerns.

• A critical transportation study was sponsored by the city, the state and Colby College.

• Thomas College and Collaborative Waterville formed a unique partnership to train prospective employees.

• The popular farmers’ market has an ideal new home in Castonguay Square thanks to efforts by Colby, market leaders and the city.

At last year’s Harvest on the Square event, speakers including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, a Waterville native, spoke of the potential inherent in the city’s historic commercial core and the promise of planned investment in the downtown. At this year’s event, tonight, 6-8 p.m. in Castonguay Square, we will celebrate the tremendous progress and momentum, thanks in no small part to the shared efforts of so many. In Waterville, we truly are greater than the sum of our parts, and the proof is there for all to see along our resurgent Main Street.

Shannon Haines is CEO and president of Waterville Creates! Bill Mitchell is the owner of GHM Insurance Agency. Kim Lindlof is president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and executive director of Central Maine Growth Council, and John Williams is senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Collaborative Consulting.

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