Services and Programs
Our actions are ‘Business-Friendly.’ The City of Saco works to maintain an environment and processes that are nimble and responsive to the needs of the businesses and entrepreneurs in Saco, as well as those looking to establish, expand, or relocate new businesses in Saco. We seek to ensure they have access to ample resources and world class infrastructure to successfully operate in highly competitive and often global markets. We act as the ‘champion’ for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to do business in Saco. We assist them in working through the development approval process(es) within the City of Saco and coordinate their contact depending upon the size and nature of each opportunity. This may include various departments, approving boards, commissions, and the City Council as part of the development approval process. We provide the same services at the state and federal level and with our utility partners.
.....Develops and markets business and industrial parks,
.…Promotes the downtown and larger community, in conjunction with Saco Main Street, Inc. and others, and
…Works with property owners and developers to promote projects that are aligned with the city’s economic development goals.
In those cases where a project cannot be located within Saco for some reason we work closely with the City of Biddeford, and our other neighboring communities to see how the project can be done within our area so that as many quality employment opportunities as possible are created for the citizens of Saco and the greater Saco Bay area.
The EDD employs a variety methods and communications platforms to tell the many positive stories about Saco within our community and throughout Maine, New England, and beyond. We often do this in collaboration with our downtown organization, Saco Main Street; our sister city, Biddeford; and other organizations that work to promote the Saco Bay region. Our marketing efforts are targeted at three core audiences and messages.
- To the business community – we have a lot to offer, including land for development, a highly qualified and knowledgeable workforce, educational and training programs that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of businesses. We are business-friendly and we take a team approach to development and business assistance.
- To our residents - we conduct your business in a fair and open manner and want you to be as informed as possible about the functions and activities of the City’s municipal government. We always keep your interests in mind as we make decisions.
- To our visitors – we offer the charm and character of a classic New England community, world class educational and cultural assets, a natural environment with a variety of recreational opportunities and a location on the pristine Maine coast that is easily accessible from anywhere by many means of transportation.
As we do our work, we understand that with all development comes change and evolution. We understand that while these are necessary, this must be accomplished through a thoughtful, balanced approach. The development we advocate ought to respect and complement the history, culture and sense of place that make Saco, Maine one of the finest communities in Maine and our nation.
Saco’s professional economic development staff collaborates with businesses expanding or locating in the city. The Economic Development Director works with businesses that are expanding and relocating to find appropriate sites, buildings or lease space that will meet their unique needs. Promoting business expansion takes many forms, including assisting with state and local permits, helping to secure business financing, and aiding with infrastructure requirements.
The City of Saco has been designated by the state of Maine as a Certified Business Friendly Community in recognition of its longstanding efforts to promote business and job growth and economic diversification. Saco has replaced a twentieth century, mill-based economy with a twenty-first century approach to the support and development of knowledge businesses and agile manufacturing. Our focus has been on the construction and marketing of industrial and business parks, promotion of redevelopment of the downtown and mill district, and the support of businesses through assistance with financing.
The City’s Development Department and Economic Development Commission have worked closely on the development, construction and marketing of industrial and business parks. This process began in the late 1970s and has continued. The Saco Industrial Park, Spring Hill Park, and Mill Brook Business Park are now home to over 100 diverse businesses and near 2,000 quality jobs. Covenants regulate the appearance of buildings and protect business owners, in an effort to create and enhance the harmony and ambiance of both the structures and the businesses located within the City’s industrial and business zones.
The staff also works closely with our Main Street affiliated downtown organization, Saco Main Street, Inc. created by the City and businesses more than 15 years ago. Projects undertaken by this independent nonprofit organization that is overseen by a board of community business leaders and managed by a full time Executive Director. This organization works closely with businesses in our downtown to see that these businesses have the resources and support to be as successful as they can be. In addition to these business advocacy activities the organization also coordinates an annual series of events and other promotional and community building activities designed to raise the profile of our beautiful downtown area.
The City has utilized many state and federal economic development programs, including tax incrementing financing districts (TIFs), both for infrastructure improvements and credit enhancements, federal EDA grants to assist with industrial/business park construction, and state grant funds to help with a portion of Main Street’s rehabilitation.
Promoting business development often involves mobilizing partners in a team effort – the state on Pine Tree Zones; the Biddeford Saco Economic Development Corporation (BSAEDC) on finance; city officials for licensing and permitting — because it is important to keep things moving forward. Helping businesses find the right real estate and helping with permitting are a major focus of the City’s efforts to save businesses time and money. Saco’s Comprehensive Plan notes many projects and goals, including the following:
- To increase the number and quality of jobs available in Saco.
- To diversify the mix of firms and jobs to avoid dependence on a single sector.
- To increase the commercial tax base of the City.
- To maintain and enhance the vitality of Downtown Saco and expand its role as a commercial, office, retail, educational and cultural, residential, and service center.