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Bristol Area Lions hear about the “Local First” Philosophy 10/09/2015

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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From left Jenny Mayher, Lion host David Kolodin and Mary Kate Reny

From left Jenny Mayher, Lion host David Kolodin and Mary Kate Reny

At their Oct. 5 meeting, the Bristol Area Lions heard from Mary Kate Reny, chair of the Twin Villages Alliance, and Jenny Mayher, communications and community engagement manager at Lincoln Academy.

Mary Kate Reny received her bachelors degree in geography and environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and masters degree in community planning and development from the Muskie School in Portland, Maine.

Reny chairs the Twin Villages Alliance, is V.P. of the Retail Association of Maine’s board and is a newly appointed member of the Topsham Development, Inc. board. She is currently, the manager of Waltz Soda Fountain and the landlord for the Professional Building at 165 Main Street located over Reny’s Underground.

She lives in Bremen with her husband Bob. One club member commented that when she married into the Reny family she discovered that community planning meant where to locate the next store.

Jenny Mayher moved with her family to Maine in 2003, purposefully seeking a small vibrant community, and finding it in the Damariscotta area. Soon after settling here, she and a friend responded to the threat of a Wal-Mart Super Center locating in Damariscotta by organizing the Our Town campaign to pass size caps on retail stores in several Midcoast towns.

Since then she has worked as a children’s librarian at Skidompha library and is currently with the Lincoln Academy in Newcastle. She holds a bachelors degree from Harvard College and masters degree from Columbia Teacher’s College.

Reny said: “Strong local economies make vibrant and livable communities. It is no secret that Maine’s population is getting older, and that we want to keep and recruit more young entrepreneurs to “set up shop” in Maine. Did you know that many Maine communities are benefitting from the national trend of young professionals choosing to live, work and raise a family in the communities of their choice or where they grew up? It’s true!”

Reny and Mayher brought interesting examples of how the local economies of Newcastle and Damariscotta are affected by this trend, and how place making proponents can support and learn from the young Mainers who get the “local first” philosophy, and are building their lives around it.

The Professional Building houses a number of companies of out of state corporations. The offices have been updated, served by the Reny’s elevator, have free parking and share a common meeting room. The occupants are young professionals making good salaries, some serving the local communities, others doing business nationwide and internationally.

The tenants are: Wells Fargo Advisors, Tenji Inc. (responsible for L. L. Bean’s Freeport 3,500 gallon aquarium), Deerfield Consulting, Midcoast Economic Development District, Twin Village Alliances, Inter-Fluve Inc., Gartley & Dorsky, and Nannies & Tutors.

Jenny Mayher listed recent Lincoln Academy graduates who have gone away for training, degrees or experience and returned to the area to join their family business or start their own business. The examples she gave were Nate Bryant, The Riverside Boat Company in Newcastle; Peter Drum, attorney at law in Damariscotta; Ross Bradley, Uprising Solar and Electric in Bristol; Brady Hatch, Morning Dew Farm in Newcastle; Ellen Sabina, outreach director of Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast, Christa Thorpe, English for speakers of other languages teacher at L.A.; and August DeLisle, Van Lloyd’s Bistro in Damariscotta.

Contrary to the trend in Maine, many young graduates are returning to raise their families and start their own venture in an area they know to be a very special place.

In the business meeting that followed, Steve Hawks owner of Hawks House Inn in Walpole was introduced as the clubs new caterer. He served a delicious chicken stew with biscuits and a unique beet salad.

Our speaker for the next meeting on Oct. 19 will be Jenny Pendleton speaking on Caring for Kids, a local non-profit helping kids in the Bristol and South Bristol area.

To make a dinner reservation for that meeting please call Herb Watson at 677-6191. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions, serving Bristol and South Bristol, call Walt Johansson at 677-2584.

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