Governor Mills calls for housing expansion during visit to Bath

Governor Mills (right) discusses the economy with Jennifer DeChant, co-owner of Bath Sweet Shoppe on 05/16. John Terhune / The Forecaster

Governor Janet Mills stressed the need for expanded housing options during visits to several businesses in Bath on Monday afternoon.

“Bath Iron Works is hiring and hiring, and people can’t afford to live close by,” Mills said. “Everyone needs housing.

Mills, joined by Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, met with Bath business owners and City Manager Marc Meyers on Monday. The event, which followed the governor’s trip to Brunswick to meet with seafood farmers from the New Meadows River Shellfish Co-op, was part of Mills’ ongoing efforts to meet with business and community leaders from across the country. State.

On trips to the Bath Sweet Shoppe, the Grant Building and Now You’re Cooking, Mills browsed Maine-made cookware and candy while talking with business owners about inflation, rising the cost of labor and housing.

Governor Mills (center) and Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic (left) examine Bath Sweet Shoppe desserts on 5/16. John Terhune / The Forecaster

“I can only raise chocolate-covered raisins so far,” said Jennifer DeChant, co-owner of Bath Sweet Shoppe and former state representative. “It’s hard.”

DeChant, who took over the business in June 2020 with his family, said while many customers have turned to sweets during the pandemic, high prices caused by inflation and soaring labor costs work contributed to the slow start of the store in 2022.

She expressed hope that the $850 relief checks championed by the Mills administration would help generate more business.

“That kind of money stays local,” she said. “I think we’re an economy of scale that could potentially benefit from that.”

Meyers echoed that optimism in an email to The Times Record.

Grant Building Project Manager reviews construction plans for the multi-purpose building with Mills, Vitelli and DeChant. John Terhune / The Forecaster

“I am grateful to small business owners, Main Street Bath and our community,” he wrote. “We have remained committed to each other throughout the pandemic. Based on foot traffic over the past two weeks, we are already seeing positive signs of an active summer for our local economy.

Although sky-high inflation rates and a struggling stock market have sent shockwaves through the global economy, Mills argued that Maine legislation, including an extension of the historic tax credit that encourages developers to build housing in sites like the Grant Building, can ease the burden on local families.

“I can’t control the global economy and the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Mills said. “But we can do a bit at the state level. We have probably passed the best economic stimulus package of any state in the country. »

Vitelli, who stressed the importance of expanding high-speed internet access, said solving the housing shortage could help reverse worrisome demographic trends toward a smaller, older Maine.

“The work is there,” she said. “The jobs are there. We have to be able to create the environment that will support that.

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