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Maine local officials explore public enterprise options.

Local officials from 15 Maine municipalities spent a "Day Exploring Public Enterprise," through a workshop sponsored by the Maine Municipal Association.

The meeting, held in cooperation with NLC and Public Technology, Inc., took place at the request of Christopher Lockwood, executive director of MMA and a member of the Board of Directors of both organizations. Lockwood opened the meeting by endorsing the concepts of entrepreneurial government by stating that, "Utilizing public enterprise strategies is an idea for cities and towns that can strengthen their activities. Locally is where the differences are made."

Attendees included council members, city and town managers, and administrative directors from municipalities around the state. Costis Toregas, PTI's president and Mary Gordon, manager of NLC's Enterprise Programs (a joint initiative of NLC and PTI), participated in the seminar held in Augusta.

Lockwood expressed his hope that the session "would uncover tangible examples of how local governments have pioneered public enterprise."

Toregas emphasized that, "Entrepreneurial strategies can be used to engage municipalities in improving local government services for its citizens. Such services can develop a profit and eventually enhance revenues if we apply key axioms in our project designs. These principles are ethics and equity, competitive advantage, a willingness to change, and the use of partnerships as factors in many of these endeavors."

Participants exchanged views and shared some of their models in relation to municipality asset development. They also explored new trends in technology that will have an impact on the public sector.

Some examples include the all-in-one personal communicators that incorporate telephone/scheduler/PC and fax functions; the new small antennas revolution; bandwidth and radio frequency competition; compression technologies that now create telephone-based cable service; environmental technology; and recyclables and related long-term markets.

The agenda called for an interactive exercise, "The Hunt for Assets," where individuals identified many of their own community's mutual assets that have the potential for public enterprise. Some examples include:

* The use of libraries for computer lab space where residents can find word processing, spreadsheets, and other common computer technology at user-friendly prices connecting the outside world through telecommunications links.

* Developing architectural plans for affordable housing that would have high transferability.

* Recreation field/recreational parks use by private corporations for events at a price.

* Creatively linking data to potential customers (pet registrations, fishing licenses, etc.)

* Data on building permits, resident addresses and other information about the community.

There is also a revenue potential for niche markets that would pay additional monies for the convenience of the services.

Through its partnership with PTI, NLC is striving to help the Maine Municipal Association and other state leagues develop enterprise activities. Municipalities represented at the workshop included Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Brunswick, Gorham, Lewiston, South Portland, Windham, Portland, Waterville, Wells, Cape Elizabeth, Old Town, Berwick, Auburn, and Winthrop.

State leagues interested in planning similar workshops should contact Mary Gordon, manager, Enterprise Programs, NLC, at (202) 626-3018.
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Title Annotation:meeting sponsored by the Maine Municipal Association in cooperation with the National League of Cities and Public Technology Inc.
Author:Gordon, Mary France
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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