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My name is Hiram Fuchs and I am running for Westbrook first selectman. I feel that Westbrook has dropped the ball on economic development. Small businesses are the backbone of our community, and are a major contributor to our tax base. I do not feel that the town has done enough to support them. One example is our struggling downtown. Plans and wishful thinking have gotten us nowhere. The town needs to work with property owners to find a solution.
Another example is our outlet center. Last year the outlets paid close to $1 million in property taxes and it is approaching 50 percent vacancy. The town needs to work with the outlets to help it transition from a place where you buy things to a place where you do things, which is the national trend for successful malls and outlets. There are more than 60,000 cars passing through Westbrook each day on I-95. We need to do a better job of tapping into that revenue stream.
Last year the Lee Company paid the Town of Westbrook more than $800,000 in property taxes. It wants to expand its operations at exit 64 but cannot because it does not have a traffic light at the end of its road. With expansion comes more property taxes and more high-paying jobs. Westbrook cannot afford to lose this project to another town or state. If elected, I will make that traffic light a top priority.
As a former small business owner with a degree in economics, I understand the issues facing Westbrook’s small businesses. As first selectman, I will work diligently to help our small businesses survive and thrive in our Town. I look forward to working with anyone who wants to make Westbrook the best it can be.
Hiram Fuchs is the Democratic candidate for first selectman.