GARDINER — In the coming months, Gardiner is expected to show a new face to the world.

“We’re on the verge of starting a Discover Gardiner campaign,” Piper Panzeri said.

That campaign, promoting tourism in the riverfront city in southern Kennebec County, is one of the projects on the plate of Panzeri, who started work in May as the executive director of Gardiner Main Street.

She replaced Patrick Wright, who announced earlier this year that he was resigning from the nonprofit downtown development organization at the end of May after seven years. Because of the timing of her hiring, she was able to spend May with Wright getting up to speed on projects already underway and planning the organization’s next steps.

The tourism website has been a long time coming, she said.

“Patrick did so much for economic development for the community, between his role at Gardiner Main Street and his role as economic development coordinator with the city,” she said. “I feel like he brought us into the station. We’re in a really good place now, and so now we’re chugging out of the station. We’re at a point where we are a destination.”

The campaign will highlight Gardiner’s attributes — among them the Waterfront Park and the historic downtown, she said. But it also will portray the city as the gateway to the midcoast, the mountains and Down East.

In the next six months, the focus will be on the arts, craft beverages and food, she said.

“Piper has the right skills at the right time,” said Robert Abbey, president of the Gardiner Main Street board of directors.

Interest in Gardiner and what it has to offer is on the rise, Abbey said.

“There is great interest in our storefronts, with new businesses arriving,” Abbey said. “And there is interest in our block of buildings.”

More than a year ago, Gardiner Main Street took on the Dingley Block, five buildings on Water Street that Camden National Bank sold to the organization a dollar, for redevelopment.

“Our chore is to redevelop that block,” he said.

Even as these changes come to Gardiner, he said, the Main Street program also is undergoing some changes to refine its approach for developing and supporting historic downtowns and offer more latitude.

“In Gardiner, there is a definite and purposeful intention to move in the same direction,” he said, and the result is success in putting on or supporting community events such as the Classic Car Cruise-In on Thursday nights or annual festivals such as Swine and Stein or the Greater Gardiner Riverfest.

Panzeri, who declined to give her age, has been the owner and operator of Out in the Open Adventures, which organizes domestic and international outdoor adventures for teens and adults.

She also has worked as communications coordinator for Congregation Micah in Tennessee, a sea kayak guide for L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools, a business specialist for Apple, a leadership coordinator and facilitator for the Afghan Youth Initiative in Kabul, Afghanistan, and a teacher, among other things.

“In my time at Gardiner Main Street, how will I be a good steward for the organization to move the to the next plateau?” she said.

Part of that will be continuing to re-brand and promote Gardiner through the website and on social media and to connect to with other hubs of tourism in the region.

“The premise of Gardiner Main Street is incremental change, and Patrick did that very well,” she said. “I come in with a fresh perspective. I tend to see possibilities everywhere. I have been all over the world, and right now Gardiner is my favorite place. I see so many possibilities here.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.