Pittsfield has always been a dynamic town with regard to economic development, particularly in the industrial sector. The Historic Profile outlines the active part that community leaders and citizens in general have played in purposefully attracting employment to Pittsfield over a period of several decades. These efforts continue to this day.
Pittsfield's Role as Regional Employment Center
Today, Pittsfield is a major employment center for the region, with an estimated 2600 people working in town daily. Pittsfield provides a job for half of its own workers and more than one in five Palmyra workers. Over 100 Pittsfield-based employees commute from each of Hartland, St. Albans, Detroit, and Newport, while over 50 drive in from Dexter, Canaan, Plymouth, and Burnham.
The other half of Pittsfield's residents commute primarily to work in other the communities. The mean travel time to work, according to the 1990 Census, was 15.7 minutes. The Census reported that 16% of Pittsfield's workers car-pooled to work, while the rest used single-occupancy vehicles; none reported using public transportation.
The diversity of employment opportunities available to area residents is very healthy for the community. With Sebasticook Valley Hospital and the related health community expanding in Pittsfield, an increasing number of jobs in health-related occupations are likely to be available.
One of Pittsfield's strengths as an employment center is the diversity of business types and sizes. These businesses, in turn, both train and employ a well-rounded highly skilled labor force. Pittsfield's businesses employ a wide variety of white and blue collar workers, from physicians and other medical professionals to engineers, shoemakers, textile workers, electronic assemblers, bankers, waitpersons, and clerks. A number of tradespeople and service providers are based in Pittsfield as well.
The town office has a directory of nearly 200 Pittsfield businesses. Data available are limited to the business name, mailing address, phone number, and contact person. It would be helpful to understanding the local economy to collect some additional information, such as the nature of the business (included in some cases now), number of employees, and perhaps any business needs or concerns (e.g. trained labor, access to markets, room for expansion, environmental permitting, etc.). Many self-employed people are not listed, so the actual number of businesses in town is probably around 250 businesses.
Pittsfield's largest employers (50+ employees) are the following:
UTC, security sensing equipment manufacturer, employing 330.
In the meantime, Pittsfield continues to work to market its available Industrial Park lots. Land Air Express, a trucking firm, has moved to the Pittsfield Industrial Park from its current site in Waterville.
Cianbro Corporation remains a stalwart presence in Pittsfield, employing 100 in town and 1300 more around the country. Cianbro, GSBSC, Kleinschmidt Associates, and Pittsfield Woolen create a job base of over 650 people who are within a three-minute walk of the Main Street block. This is a tremendous cross-sector asset for the service and retail businesses. Stretching this to a five-minute walk captures the 500+ students and staff at MCI and the 75 employees of C.M. Almy. This has tremendous potential.
Two other industrial giants in town deserve special mention. C.M. Almy, manufacturer of church vestments, and San Antonio Shoe (SAS), are two companies who beyond their specific high-quality products also make substantial and major contributions to the civic life of the community. These are businesses with the pro-community and pro-employee ethic that makes the town a special place to live, learn, work, and play. Key to the attitudes within these firms is that fact that the respective CEO's have made lifelong commitments to Pittsfield and are personally involved in community life.
Though not giants, other noteworthy contributors to Pittsfield's industrial sector are Sonoco Products (50 employees), Somerset Farms, Greeley Potato Farms, and the half-dozen remaining dairy farms in town.
A number of Pittsfield's businesses provide critical services to people in the region. Accounting, engineering, legal services, office management, construction, veterinary services, animal boarding, chiropractic care, banking, insurance, surveying, investment counseling, and health and fitness services are all available in Pittsfield. The area experiencing the most dramatic growth of late in Pittsfield, however, is health care. Sebasticook Valley Hospital (SVH) is continually evaluating needed services that can be brought to Pittsfield as many days per month as demand warrants on a clinic bases. This is a great convenience for patients and brings people from surrounding communities to Pittsfield for health care visits rather than losing this trade opportunity to Waterville or Bangor. In addition to the hospital's significant base operation, SVH actively recruits physicians and other health care professionals to the area to set up private practice and be associated with the hospital. The number of new outpatient medical providers in Pittsfield is making a very positive mark on the community and creating highly-skilled support jobs.
Economic development and an attractive, thriving community work hand-in-hand. The hospital administrator has indicated that Pittsfield's attractiveness and good school system are effective recruitment tools for medical professionals. The converse is also true: The hospital and extensive community and employer-based wellness programs that it runs are attractive to companies looking to relocate. Successful wellness programs can reduce lost work time, improve morale and moderate the high costs of medical and worker's compensation insurance. SVH and its relevant programming are a vital service to the region and a terrific asset to Pittsfield.
Where start-up financing has been an obstacle, the Town has stepped in to help. Pittsfield has a revolving economic development loan fund which has provided significant assistance to small businesses, many of them retail efforts. A number of these assisted businesses have unfortunately failed nonetheless. It is felt that the lack of management support available contributed to these failures and that better access to technical assistance should be developed in town. Developing a local presence of a mentoring group such as the Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counseling program would be helpful.
The Pittsfield Tomorrow vision calls for their mutual success as retail areas with the emphasis on pedestrian access in the downtown and vehicular access at the Plaza.
Pittsfield has not been "taken over" by fast-food chains and has a chance to develop and promote a higher-quality image with a more upscale appeal.