October 2015 Newsletter


Casey Gilbert

What I love about Portland

by Casey Gilbert, Executive Director

What I love about Portland (among many other things) is the entrepreneurial spirit that radiates from every brick and cobblestone in our historic Downtown. All you need to do to see examples of this entrepreneurial spirit is to take a look around at all of the unique businesses. Whether small retailers with unique gifts or art galleries with one-of-a-kind sculptures and paintings — you can tell that there is passion and intention behind the glass door. Passion and intention are just a couple of the many qualities that define what it means to be an entrepreneur. At the heart of these businesses are people (entrepreneurs!) who want to see our community be the best it can be — and they do it with intention each and every day.

Speaking of arts — Downtown abounds in the culinary arts! Restaurants, cocktail bars, coffee shops and cafes are a direct result of entrepreneurs who have a passion for food and beverage and a heart for service. Whether they are making headlines in national media or simply enticing regulars back over and over again for their favorite special — entrepreneurship is alive and well in our culinary arts in Portland.

If you are an entrepreneur who is looking to grow and connect — you can find that here, too. Think Tank on Congress Street, Peloton Labs (just outside our Downtown footprint) and the Engine Room on York Street are a few of the places that you can rent a small office or co-working space and learn from and network with other entrepreneurs. How cool is that? We support and GROW entrepreneurs here in Downtown!

Looking to get inspired? Portland Downtown has no shortage of events to help launch your idea or find others to bounce ideas off of: Maine Start Up & Create Week, Maine Live, Rise of The Rest — plus, there are workshops and speaking events at MECA, Portland Public Library, Portland Museum of Art, The Cumberland Club…and the list goes on. Each and every week, there are ideas blooming in every building — in classrooms, coffee shops, board rooms — all in the spirit of improving our community — and beyond!

Want to join an organization to meet other entrepreneurs and help to grow your business? The Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau, Maine Charitable Mechanics Association, 2 Degrees Portland, Buy Local — to name a few! There are abundant opportunities to learn from other entrepreneurs, get feedback on your ideas and find others who share your vision. Artists, musicians, nonprofits, chefs, tech-savvy individuals, marketing teams, small business gurus, innovators, explorers, trendsetters, visionaries — we truly have it all here in Portland. The heart of the City pulses with energy and enthusiasm and the intention to make our community an amazing place to live, work and play.

Photo credit: Portland Press Herald
Ken Cianchette. Photo credit: Portland Press Herald

Meet Ken Cianchette

A Q & A with one of our board members

What do you like best about what the board achieves?

The board’s best achievement, I believe, is its advocacy and involvement with city staff. Achievements of this great city are done by the retailers and employers with great and innovative products and practices, so we need to assist in providing them with a great environment.

How long have you been on the board?

A whole 4 months!

What projects are you currently working on with the board?

There are a variety of issues being discussed at any time, but my personal focus is panhandling, graffiti and other items that deter tourism. Portland has some of the world’s most creative shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions. The city’s retailers and restaurants sell themselves, as evidenced by the numerous magazine publications, so the best way we can assist them is helping make the streets clean and safe.

What makes the Portland Downtown mission meaningful to you?

The PD is one of the most impactful organizations the city recognizes. Its mission correlates to the outside issues our tenants may have with their space (appearance, crime, services, etc.). It is meaningful because it gives me an opportunity to impact issues that we don’t have control over. I was born here, live here, and work here, so I want to make an impact on how the future here shakes out.

What do you do for work outside of volunteering for Portland Downtown?

I work at ELC Management, as the lead property and project manager. Also, I volunteer as a football coach at my alma mater.

What is your favorite hotspot (restaurant, coffee shop, bar) Downtown?

Pat’s Pizza Old Port, Twenty Milk Street Restaurant, The Armory Lounge, Market Street Eats, Sonny’s, Dobra Tea and a recently unveiled speak easy…shhhh.

What is one fun fact about Portland that others may not know about?

Portland was Maine’s original capital city until 1827 when it went to Augusta. In 1835 the Merchants Exchange building was built in hopes to get the capital to return to the city. It was a large, beautiful dome-shaped building, visible on the Maine Historical Society website. It was destroyed in the great Portland fire, and the marble Post Office building was built in its place in 1866. That building was removed halfway through the 20th century and now all that remains is called ‘Post Office Park.’ I wish we had either of those buildings still today.

All aboard!

by Angelika Schechter & Casey Gilbert

Fall is here, and this means two things for Portland, Maine: leaf peeping and cruise ship season!

With its deep water seaport and friendly city, Portland welcomes large and small cruise ships. This year, 52 out of 83 ships were scheduled in September and October alone and, of those, 34 carried more than 1000 passengers.

To make things even more exciting — there are days when two big cruise ships are in town. Our busiest day this season was September 12th with a total of 5867 passenger and 2360 crew members! Next year, ships will be slightly less numerous, but bigger in size, for a 16.5% passenger increase.

The Carnival Splendor on September 9, with 2974 passengers and 1160 crew. Photo credit: Michael White.
The Summit (Celebrity X Cruise) on September 9, with 2038 passengers and 997 crew. Photo credit: Michael White.

What does this mean for visitors? If you are a cruise ship passenger, there are many places to shop and eat within close walking distance of the ship. Whether you fancy a lobster roll, a hearty salad or a unique creation from one of our many award winning chefs — you will find something to suit your palate. If you are interested in a memento from your trip ashore or perhaps a one-of-a-kind gift, our eclectic retail shops are sure to have something for everyone. From clothing and books to jewelry and art — many items made right here in Maine — you will surely have a wonderful time browsing and shopping during your time ashore.

For our local businesses, this is another busy time of year — a follow-up to the summer rush. Many visitors are coming by cruise ship, but others are coming by car or tour bus to take in the breathtaking views of the fall foliage. Portland serves for some as home base on their fall foliage trip and they choose to stay in one of our many fine hotels and lodging establishments. For others, we are a stop-through on their way up the coast or to the mountains for more fall foliage viewing and perhaps some lighthouse tours as well. It is a great time to showcase our city and our wonderful businesses that keep it so vibrant.

Portland residents get the pleasure of enjoying the gorgeous sights on a daily basis — on their morning walk on the Easter Prom or their walk to work — or perhaps as they sit and have lunch in one of our Downtown parks. It is nice to see locals stop and help visitors — we are always eager to show off our amazing city and help people find their way to a museum, historical site or a place nearby for coffee or lunch. That is just one of the many reasons why visitors return again and again — our friendly residents and business owners. We love our city and want visitors to love it just as much as we do.

So, whether you come by boat, car, bus, bike or on foot — we hope you’ll enjoy the sights and sounds and all that Portland has to offer during this special time of year. And for the residents and shop owners — we are lucky to capture the magic of this time of year each and every day! Let’s enjoy these crisp sunny days…while they last!