BELFAST, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Belfast has known hard times, but is now being hailed as a model for success. The city's downtown is bustling and full of businesses, and a brand new business on the waterfront is getting lots of attention.
The Front Street Shipyard has been open for just two years and already has 114 people working, with more jobs expected to come. Members of the Legislature's Workforce Development Committee toured the shipyard on Monday, learned about the growth and the plans for more expansion this year.
Lawmakers were also told about the close working relationship between the business and the city, something company president J.B. Turner credits for allowing the rapid growth.
Turner says neighbors and the city have both been supportive and have helped to speed project approval along. The shipyard has transformed a run-down strip of the waterfront into a complex that can handle some of the biggest yachts in Maine. This year's expansion will add a far larger boat lifer and new building to handle even bigger boats.
Legislators say the example of Belfast's success will help them review programs that are supposed to support growth in other Maine communities. The Workforce Development Committee has spent the past two months analyzing the state's job skills gap, and now is expanding into programs to help grow downtowns as ways to stimulate job growth.