Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Raymond Shopping Center and other projects draw positive attention to the town - By Michelle Libby

One of the buzz words around Raymond recently is revitalization. Raymond, through various methods, is undergoing a change in physical appearance and in mindset. Starting with the sprucing up of the Raymond Shopping Center by K.P. Gagnon Company and the construction of new buildings like the one that houses Premier Properties, and the creation of the Raymond Revitalization Committee, Raymond is growing and looking for more people and businesses to see the opportunity in the community and move there. They are actively courting businesses to make Raymond a place locals and vacationers can do all of their business without leaving town. 

“We want to keep the momentum going,” said Kevin Gagnon, owner of the Raymond Shopping Center and lifetime resident of Raymond. “Chipman did a wonderful job,” Gagnon said about the new Chipman Farm building on Route 302. He also pointed out the building owned by Mike Meyer that houses Raymond Florist and Premier Properties all help to add to the new feel of Raymond. 

“We’re starting to brand the town,” said Nick Hardy. “The town as the home of the landlocked salmon is no longer going to cut it.” 

“We really are four season,” said Gagnon. He has looked to find a variety of businesses to go into his properties to make Raymond a destination for shopping. “The mix is so important. The businesses have to feed off one another,” he added. 

Gagnon wanted to thank the Town of Raymond for being so supportive as the reconstruction was taking place. He didn’t ask for tax benefits and worked with the code enforcement officer to benefit everyone. “I wanted no free passes,” Gagnon said. Raymond is becoming pro-business and committed to maintaining the quality of life for its residents. 

Raymond is still in need of a few businesses like a pizza shop, a bank, and perhaps a mini-Kittery trading post, Gagnon mused. “We want people to go there, meet a need, and have an inviting place to shop.”
“We want to tailor the growth and protect the quality of life. We have a really good town government and I’m comfortable and confident in the direction we’re going,” he said.

“It means we’re moving forward when we formed the Raymond Revitalization Committee,” said selectman Sam Gifford. 

“We want to increase residential and commercial development to give the town a better tax base,” said Wayne Holmquist, a member of the Raymond Revitalization Committee. “We surveyed the town to see what people wanted and they said more place to shop and be serviced.”

One of the newest projects is to repurpose the Chipco Building on Route 302 using a $25,188 grant. The building would become a manufacturing incubator. Utilizing the students from USM ventures program, the Town of Raymond and others will help develop business ideas and technology to take plans from concept to reality with the hope that the businesses would grow up and find their own location within Raymond, said Danielle Loring who works in the assessing department for the town. The building would house many different tools from a 3-D printer to a lathe. “We would develop and incubate Raymond as a new home,” said Loring. 

The sidewalk system within Raymond also is helping the development. From the library to the beach and the stores, people can walk around Raymond safely. 

The comprehensive town plan for Raymond expires this year, so the town officials will start looking at where additional development and rezoning might happen. Gagnon mentioned that he still has one 6,000 square foot and one 2,000 square foot business to rent.  
“If we can meet the needs in Raymond, it’s a homerun for everybody,” said Gagnon. 

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