The Christian Science Monitor

One man's mission to revitalize small-town America

David Leckey of the Orton Family Foundation poses in Shelburne, Vt., where the organization is headquartered. Source: David Karas

Ten years ago, things weren’t looking so good in Biddeford, Maine. Growth was stagnant, particularly because of a controversial municipal waste incinerator – also the town’s largest taxpayer – that occupied some eight acres on the downtown riverfront. There were also infrastructure improvement needs, competing downtown interests, and an image problem.

“The city did not need a short-term, band-aid solution list or lackluster plan,” says Daniel Stevenson, who previously served as Biddeford’s economic development director.

Community leaders decided to partner with the Orton Family Foundation, a nonprofit based in Vermont whose aim is to help towns and small cities become healthier and more economically vibrant. With some 35 neighborhood meetings and the participation of hundreds of residents, Biddeford opted to buy out the waste incinerator and move forward with

Three guides‘A different way of doing business’Other groups that support communities

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