While there remains much work to do in our Waterville Economic Revitalization initiative, we are excited by the great progress being made—and we are grateful for our partners who have stepped up in a big way. Harold Alfond loved leadership and teamwork, and both are on display in Waterville.
Waterville was the home of Harold and Bibby Alfond, who, throughout their lifetimes, helped support the city and the institutions which made it great. During those days, Waterville was a thriving manufacturing town with a bustling Main Street. But, like so many small towns and cities across America, Waterville fell on hard economic times following the loss of the paper and textile industries.
In 2016, the Foundation stepped up to bring new vibrancy to Main Street through strategic grants to local organizations exhibiting strong leadership and dedication to collaboration for the future of Waterville.
Together, Colby College and the Foundation have spearheaded downtown development projects such as a new boutique hotel, revamped office and retail spaces, and, along with a lead gift from the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation, the mixed-use Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, featuring retail, public meeting space, and apartment-style residencies for 200 students and faculty.
The Foundation helped found and continues to support Waterville Creates!, a collaborative consortium of multiple community arts, creative, and cultural institutions which includes the Waterville Opera House, the Maine Film Center, and Colby College. Waterville Creates! is now working with Colby College to raise funds to create a new ‘Center for the Arts’ at the site of the old Sterns department store.
To better meet the labor needs of Central Maine businesses, the Foundation worked with Thomas College to launch the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation. The Institute provides programs to guide and mentor existing businesses that look to grow, and to encourage the start-up of new businesses in the region.
The Foundation has also supported area youth and families through grants to the Alfond Youth Center, a state-of-the-art indoor recreation facility featuring two pools, a gymnasium, an afterschool center, and newly-expanded wellness programming for the whole family; as well as Educare Central Maine, a provider of high-quality early care and education.