top of page
  • Matt Moloney

Embracing inclusive development in Westbrook, Maine

As one of the fastest growing cities in Maine, Westbrook is prioritizing an inclusive development strategy to make sure that every resident, whether new or longtime, can access the resources they need.

We spoke with Demetria Pellegrino, the Deputy Director of Economic Development for Westbrook, ME, to learn about what inclusivity looks like in Westbrook and what tools they use to make Westbrook the “perfect place to relocate, grow and prosper.”

Westbrook, ME Headshot - Inclusive Development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is a full-time job

When discussing economic development opportunities and ways to support their local businesses, Pellegrino was adamant about her philosophy:

“Economic development is about bringing us all together, not leaving us behind. It’s about creating a thriving, inclusive community.” Demetria Pellegrino, Deputy Director of Economic Development for Westbrook, ME

Sharing her philosophy, Westbrook, ME has hired a full-time position to support the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives in the community. The new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Administrator, Prosper Lohomboli, uses their knowledge of many different languages and cultures to help the department understand any differences and be a bridge to resources.

“I've noticed that there's been a change in feel and in health awareness of different programming questions within the city. It's been great.” Demetria Pellegrino, Deputy Director of Economic Development for Westbrook, ME

Pellegrino is enthusiastic about this work and hopes the impact it’s made on City staff is able to make its way through the rest of the city.

Increasing impact through partnerships helps drive inclusive development

Beyond City Hall, Westbrook is embracing partnerships as a way to increase their capacity and impact. By prioritizing partnerships with organizations like the Portland Chamber of Commerce, Discover Downtown Westbrook, Rock Row Development and the Black Chamber of Commerce, each organization is able to move forward together while achieving their own missions.

It has also allowed them to be more critical in their work—when working with an entrepreneurial ecosystem grant, Pellegrino has found themselves looking deeper at their work:

“We have a couple great concepts that would be first in the state of Maine while being considerate about – is this best for my community, is it going to thrive in my community?” Demetria Pellegrino, Deputy Director of Economic Development for Westbrook, ME

Similarly, the partnerships have broadened the communities they serve. Not only do partners like Rock Row Development help support massive projects in their city that will support hundreds of new units and people annually, but partners like the Black Chamber ensure those projects support everyone.

Putting community businesses first

Westbrook is also making sure to center their local businesses needs during all their initiatives. As an anticipated recipient of a downtown grant, Westbrook used surveying tools to collect data and ask their downtown businesses what they wanted. Their Mainstreet program, Discover Downtown Westbrook, leads this grant opportunity.

They discovered that a lot of the businesses wanted entrepreneurial education and maker spaces—something where folks can practice their trade and develop it into a business. During this process, Pellegrino wanted to make sure the grant was being used to support their local businesses.

“We have to be mindful that awarded grant funds give power to our community and meet the critical needs businesses ask for.” Demetria Pellegrino, Deputy Director of Economic Development for Westbrook, Maine

When a new business opens in town, Westbrook isn’t just there for the photo op. Rather, they take the ribbon cutting ceremonies as an opportunity to highlight the business and create content that the business can use for their own social media. They have a videographer on staff that captures professional footage of this pivotal monument—giving these important members of the community marketing materials for their own use.

The right tools, for the right way to foster inclusive development

Building an inclusive community is challenging and can be made more difficult if you don’t know who makes up your community. By working with Bludot, a CRM built for economic development, they’ve been able to organize their data and gain insights about their community.

By learning and tracking information like previous business names or new addresses, they can improve their communication within the city.

Bludot CRM - Inclusive Development

“We get to know our data. It's been transformative at how we're looking at the city.” Demetria Pellegrino, Deputy Director of Economic Development for Westbrook, Maine

Westbrook is using Bludot specifically to create a new business directory that can be shared within the department, with their partners and even publicly. A tool like Bludot can even help keep track of communications, grants, growth and the demographics of business owners, so you can create reports to track the inclusivity of your efforts.

Bludot CRM Reports - Inclusive Development

Westbrook, ME is a business community that prides itself in its connections to each other. By focusing on building a local economy that supports all residents and business owners together, they’ve been able to move forward, faster.

And with the right tools, they can see the impact of their efforts and ensure they’re communicating with all of their community members.

If you’re looking to increase the impact of your work, schedule a call with Bludot today.


bottom of page