Maine Small Towns, Lean, Mean, Creative.
The Black And White Realities Of Running A Red, White & Blue Maine Small Town.

Maine has 108 small towns, and the pride in these scattered, spaced communities is fierce.

But as the economic realities hit home and change does not happen to react or respond to them, the community flywheel of industry and commerce slows. Strained because what adjustments could be done are not. And red ink bleeding out, white flags being waved madly are missed. Cues to do this, this and oh yeah that come and go without attention can kill a small Maine town.

In industry around the world, automation is the word for today’s economy. It’s the buzz word. Lean, mean, just in time inventory but still a big selection offered and without slack or business operation waste. How to adapt, to stay in business is the order of the day. What took three men to do not many years ago can be done by one or none with the right machine, software. How we do the business, provide the service evolves too. The taste of the consumer changes.

Fail to adapt and rut rho. One less Maine business happens.

Or sometimes farming out the job, putting it out for bid to the private sector is in town government’s better route to go in a small Maine burg. Unless no bidders. Then that backfires. Like with winter plowing snow contracts. $5000 a mile can be the one and only bidder when the true cost is $3800 to return a tidy profit. Return on time and expenses, the ROI needs constant monitoring in everything you and I do. Whether in the business of small Maine towns or out in the private sector.

When a Maine town department head retires, instead of replacing him paying the second in command a little more could often work. The guy or gal who usually is doing most of the heavy lifting day to day is who should be tapped on the shoulder. To step up. Compensated a little more in the weekly pay envelope.

Tightening up a top heavy town government with a template that worked twenty years ago that now is a luxury no longer affordable.

Or sometimes pulling back in the number of cars parked out back the local government facility is needed. With too many middle management employees. Everyone has a vehicle, other benefits the Maine town no longer can afford to offer. That’s a place to weed for the long term survival of the small Maine town. We have quality of life in Maine. But the quarters for the life jukebox year round to keep it going is at stake.

So getting on the horn with Maine state representatives, speaking loudly to say whoa, ease up on all the new fees, laws on top of legislation that just strangle small town residents. And the small Maine businesses in them that you don’t want to lose.

But will if suddenly the employers say, that’s it. We’re forced to close our doors and go elsewhere to another area of the state, country, the world or solar system where the environment to do business is healthier. Where we are appreciated. Embrace current industry rather than chasing new ones is the easiest return on economic development. Retention is key.

So is sometimes as simple as instituting new heating temperature standards, routines. Because of the extremely high cost of heating oil when you live in Maine and are so dependent on it. When energy use at your home is eyeballed like an eagle. But it’s not so intensely important on a municipal levels with all those buildings, facilities, buses, cruisers, plows, etc paid for from handsomely with deep digging in the general fund, not an individual’s wallet. Where the individual says ouch.

Looking for areas of duplication in services and getting insulated players together on the same dug out bench. To chill in one group. To brainstorm and talk about what if we do this, or that. Would it be better now and in the long run for the small Maine town batted around. The small Maine town that has to be careful or it will cease to exist. And everyone gets the memo, last one out, remember to shut off the lights.

Small business in Maine has a hard time for the leg up to success, even survival because of the lack of sheer volume needed to turn a profit.

Customers leave a small Maine town for goods and services that are offered significantly cheaper elsewhere. Even with high cost gas, transportation, if what the small Maine business has to spend to stay in the community is too steep, sales drop off sharply.

Rising expenses to do business in a Maine small town means anything the state, county and local municipality can do to ease the tug at the wallet is key to survival. Of the small Maine business, of the community’s schools, public safety, everything that goes on in the inner workings of the community. Going things the same old way we always did is one nail in the coffin of a small Maine town.

Maintaining population is key in a small Maine town. And growth, increasing the number of folks pushing shopping carts, paying local property taxes, serving on local boards, enrolling their kids in the local schools all enhance the overall economic health. But cutting costs, increasing revenue will help those elderly folks on very small fixed incomes that are barely hanging on.

The Maine small town community spirit increases when a local business can expand. Renovate and add on to the service, product produced or distributed in the small Maine town. If belt tightening in spending in a small Maine town happens like you and I do in our own households when the funds are tight, the adjustment is easier to swallow. Than when do or die up against a wall happens because Mr. Overspending meets Mr. Empty Checkbook.

Creating revenue streams in a small Maine town takes brainstorming and working together to see what is not available locally and asking how come? And talking to local business and community leaders to see their ideas are part of the direction the small Maine town is headed. And regionally every small Maine town knows their role in the grand scheme of how each community rolls. The part they play in keeping a small Maine town vibrant, unique and a place for young folks to consider living, working, playing in. Maintaining the option of where to live the current population enjoys, wants to see continue.

I’m Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers, ME Broker