What does a Certified Business Friendly Community that happens to be the second largest city in Aroostook County,with a population of a little more than 8,000 people have to offer you? A chance to expand your business.
Caribou, Maine already has a number of franchise brands including Burger King, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Horton’s, Subway, Dollar Tree, and H&R Block among others. According to City Manager, Austin Bleess, there is always room for more.
“The biggest one I hear a want for is a Wendy’s,” Bleess says. He goes on to say that that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for many other franchises. “There is such a wide opportunity for franchises and franchise owners,” he says. “We are so close to Canada, and have so many Canadians traveling through on their way to Bangor. If you had the right business, it would be a profitable venture.” Bleess says Canadians generally travel to Bangor to shop, and Caribou has such limited shopping. “the big stores really drive people down there. It would be nice to attract some of those to Caribou.”
According to a recent leakage report (whats missing in town), Caribou is lacking in the area of general merchandise stores and hotels. Bleess says there is always room to improve no matter which franchise you choose. “Caribou is a great destination spot in the winter time,” he says. According to Bleess Caribou has some of the best snowmobiling trails in the county, in the state, and quite possibly in the country. “We get people from New York and Pennsylvania who come up every single winter and spend a week. That’s huge!” Bleess suggests that since snowmobilers bring up their families who aren’t always so keen on the outdoors. “If franchise owners could tap into that market, that would be profitable.” “We also have a larger number of people who travel Route 1 from Fort Kent all the way down to Florida and vise versa. We could attract people from all over the country,” he says. “With all of the surrounding communities, there is easily 200,000 people within a 60 minute driving time from us,” Bleess continues. “The void between us and Bangor is huge.”
Bleess started talk about redeveloping parts of Caribou a year ago. “I started my job here about a year ago, and as I was driving into Caribou I was thinking that really needs to get cleaned up. It’s really been a goal of mine since I started.” According to Bleess, there has been a huge redevelopment push in the last four to five months. Bleess also says there are some locations undergoing environmental studies, but that they should be finished up within a month, and those sites should be cleaned up within the next six months. “We are trying to make it as quick of a process as we can,” Bleess states.
Bleess feels Caribou’s waterfront location has some great potential. “It’s barren right now, but it would be perfect for a restaurant or a hotel.” Comparing it to the waterfront in Bangor, he says Caribou’s waterfront could have some larger gatherings, and it could potentially make caribou the “hub of everything.”
Senator Troy Jackson, agrees with Bleess. “Caribou is a beautiful town with quite a bit of potential for franchise owners looking to expand. Not only is there a great market, but there’s also a great workforce available.”
This past summer Caribou held it’s first Thursdays on Sweden event that brought in well over 1,000 people when the weather was nice, according to Bleess. Every other Thursday over the summer, Caribou shut down two blocks of Sweden Street and filled it with various venders, games for kids, and live bands. “It’s was basically like a giant street fair,” Bleess says. “This event is just another great way to get people out of their homes to socialize with old friends, eat food and go shopping.
According to Bleess, there is talk about continuing the event into the winter months, with different events of course. “We’re still in the planning stages,” he says, “but ice skating has been mentioned.”
Bleess wants to stress that when it comes to Economic Development, Caribou’s Economic Growth Council is very flexible. “We are actively looking for businesses,” Bleess states. “There are a lot of people in Caribou likely to be investors, and there is even some land the city owns that we would practically give away.” “We have some perfect spots downtown that 26,000 cars pass by each day, and we are willing to work with developers to help reduce costs.”
Bleess also wants to remind franchise owners looking to expand into Caribou that there are many ways that the Economic Growth Council can package loans.
If you’re interested in expanding your franchise and in learning more about the opportunities in Caribou, Bleess says he would be a great first point of contact. Feel free to email him at email@example.com or call him at 207-493-3324 x230.