Discussion groups on economic development on the future of Orléans

With the completion of the downtown sewer construction next year, the time seems right to consider the economic future of Orleans.

To this end, the city has scheduled a series of workshops focused on economic development on Wednesday, December 15. The four discussion groups will focus on the business environment (8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), arts and culture (10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.), environment and conservation (noon to 1 p.m.) and commercial real estate (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.). Meetings will take place in the Skaket room of the Town Hall.

The city has hired a consultant, Streetwise, to work on an economic development strategy that will attract a diverse set of businesses. The consultant solicits the opinion of the community through focus groups.

“The out-of-state consultant will be spending a few days in Orleans,” said city planner George Meservey. “The intention is to try and tackle the larger issues through intelligent and useful conversation beyond gut feelings and opinions about what should happen in Orleans, to determine what is viable at Orleans in the future and how we can get it. “

To do this, they wanted to reach a diverse set of interests in the city.

“All four topics were recommended by the consultant,” said Meservey, noting that the creative (artistic) economy was an important part of the local economy, as well as the attraction that Orleans’ natural resources provide to interests. potential salespeople.

“We plan to use the resources we have and how much we rely on and value the natural environment to encourage visitors,” Meservey said. “Orleans is no longer the merchant city of 50 years ago, so what is the future of commercial real estate? There is a huge residential need, so what should the future of Route 6A look like?

Meservey noted that surrounding towns have built their business districts and although Orleans is still the hub of the Outer Cape, that role is in decline.

“This is a timely study,” he said. “When the sewer arrives and businesses are ordered to connect, they will have to ask themselves whether they want to invest or move it, if (the connection) will generate additional income or should it develop another activity? We want to complete the study so that we have a better idea of ​​where we need to go.

These are vacancies in some of the downtown malls, especially since the pandemic.

“Economic development in Orleans is about the quality of life,” Meservey said. “The quality of life of residents – the ability to get the things we need locally and not have to go to another city. It’s good for everyone if you can buy locally.

He noted that residents adopted zoning rules at the city meeting a few years ago, allowing denser residential development in the downtown area when the sewer is finished. He contacted 80 people on a list and the Chamber of Commerce as well, to alert them to the focus groups.

“We favor business people, but there are a lot of residents with a life experience that we would be happy to have,” he added.

Anyone interested in participating should send an email [email protected] before December 10 or go to town website record..

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