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WCSH6 Touts Rockland's Growth and Energy

Posted Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Business boom" in downtown Rockland


By Don Carrigan July 8, 2014

ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Rockland will be busy this coming weekend, as the annual North Atlantic Blues Festival will bring thousands of people to town. And those crowds will come at the same time there's something of a "business boom" in Rockland's downtown.

That was the phrase used by one Main Street landlord, who has just rented her storefront space to a new art gallery.

But that landlord clearly isn't the only person using the term. The promotional group Rockland Main Street, Inc. says about ten new businesses have opened in the downtown in the last few months, several of them opening their doors few weeks ago - just in time for summer. Gordon Page of Rockland Main Street says it's a sign that there's more confidence in the economy, and that business owners and customers want to be in the downtown area.

"The past six months or so," says Page, "we've seen a tremendous upsurge in interest in city of Rockland. A wide variety of businesses providing a diverse product mix.

Leah Ondra has opened a fabric store called "Clementine" in a space that used to be a real estate business, but had been empty for a year or more. Ondra says she grew up in Rockland, then moved away and worked in San Francisco. She and her husband came home to Maine three years ago, she says, and she dreamed of opening her own store.

Now, says Ondra, "For us there's so much excitement watching our town grow ."

Holly Desjardins says she has lived in the area for about twenty years. "I needed a job so I created one," she said.

Desjardins has opened "C'est le Vie", a consignment shop that also sells some antiques, home decor and jewelry. She says she was able to sell a house in Florida, and used the money to buy the Main Street building that is now home to her business.

As for the downtown location, she says, "They always say 'be where all the traffic is.' If you're going to make it in business be on the main drag and you'll make it."

Gordon Page of Main Street Rockland says the art galleries and restaurants in Rockland have kept the city's downtown strong, but that adding more new retailers will give them all a boost.

He says several other businesses are currently under construction, while there are also projects to build or rebuild apartments and offices on upper floors. In addition to that activity, a new, higher-end downtown hotel may begin construction this fall, and a second hotel is being proposed.