When I was 5 years old, I begged my mother to buy me a pair of old-fashioned knickers and a red bowtie. Even though it was the 1980s and not the 1920s, she drove me to downtown Waterville in the family station wagon, the smell of Scott Paper in Winslow penetrating through closed windows.

Lucky for me in 1986 in a vibrant downtown alive with customers receiving good paychecks from a flourishing job market, a small boutique children’s clothing store called “Little Rascals” had my knickers and red bowtie. The fact that I only ever wore that outfit to the Waterville House of Pancakes with my grandmother didn’t matter.

In the decades that followed, mills were shuttered and as jobs left central Maine, many of the small shops they supported were soon to follow. What never left was our hope that new opportunity was just around the corner.

For years, the great people of Waterville quietly began to lay the groundwork for a new future. Like medieval monks quietly rebuilding a new society after fall of Rome, longtime residents continued to mow their lawns on Saturdays. Local business owners changed models to meet weekly payrolls while building coalitions that would become the Central Maine Growth Council, and groups of artists and philanthropists laid the groundwork for a cultural revival.

After being inaugurated in January 2015, the first meeting I took was with President David Greene and Brian Clark from Colby College. As we conversed, we spoke at length about Waterville’s history, her glories and triumphs as well as her trials and anxieties in the 21st century. We also spoke about how we could address our issues in a new and substantive manner.

When the meeting was over the plan was in motion. By working together and building new coalitions of community members, city officials and business leaders, and with a large capital investment by Colby we would send shockwaves into the marketplace. By creating a once-again-vibrant core in our downtown Waterville would once again be a place to lure new employers and residents.


After three years of working closely with all partners we are now seeing the results our efforts.

In downtown, the combined Colby and Alfond Foundation investments stand to total around $45 million to $50 million. Other investments, some from longtime downtown partners along with new friends, this number is now estimated to total $65 million.

For the first time since cranes tore down the buildings lining the concourse, once again steel has been raised and lights illumine the night sky as our largest nonprofit builds new taxable property.

Outside of the downtown the excitement has spread. Our partners at Trafton Reality are planning a new 120,000-square-foot industrial building where a new highway exit provides access to a frontier of taxable land in Waterville. Outer College Avenue has had its own steel raised as businesses move to our city.

Over the last three years Waterville has seen employment growth over 4 percent. In last two years, it is estimated that new job growth has been between 215 and 250 jobs and it is projected that over the next two to four years we will see an additional 350-550 new jobs. These range from good-paying jobs in manufacturing and the tech sector to a massive uptick in local retail sales, where other jobs follow.

Jobs for every class and ability are crucial in the alleviation of poverty.


Just this year three of the top 15 commercial sales in the state have been in Waterville outside of the downtown revitalization. This list usually only comprises of properties in Portland and its surrounding area. Investors have confidence in Waterville.

Throughout this time of growth in both investment and opportunity our most important assets, our residents, have had a champion on their side. Make no mistake about it, our motto has been and remains, taxpayers first.

After leading the fight to set parameters around the mil rate we have reformed our union negotiating process to keep taxpayers needs up front while being honorable to the needs and dedication of our employees.

The Planning Board has been reshaped to a place where partners come with confidence to get things done.

In three years, we have achieved great things, but much work remains and there is so much more in store.

Three years ago the people of Waterville rose up in a movement uniting in a common mission to both reclaim their government and create a new shared prosperity for all. Now is the time to harness the momentum from what we have achieved together, because our future has just begun.

Nick Isgro is running for reelection as mayor of Waterville.

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