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 the Lockwood Hotel, downtown Waterville’s first new hotel in over a century, featuring 53 guest rooms and the acclaimed Front & Main restaurant; revamped office and retail spaces; and, along with a lead gift from the Bill and Joan Alfond Family 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 consortium of community arts and cultural institutions, which includes the Waterville Opera House, the Maine Film Center, and Colby College. In December 2022, Waterville Creates moved into the brand-new Paul. J. Schupf Arts Center on Main Street. The 32,000-square-foot art center, graced with glass and open space, was built through a partnership between Colby College and Waterville Creates, with major support from the Foundation. The Art Center includes the Colby College Art Museum’s Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art; three cinemas; another gallery; the Art of Clay Studio in honor of Dorie M. Hawkes; rehearsal space; communal gathering areas; classrooms; concessions; the Bixby chocolate shop and café; and the “Bibby and Harold Alfond Sky Bridge,” an enclosed glass skywalk that connects the center to the historic 800-seat Waterville Opera House.
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 start-ups 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.