Author (Your Name)

Alex WolanskyFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Sociology Dept.


Neil Gross


Mills and factories in the United States have steadily been closing down as industry is outsourced in the globalized economy. Cities that were once prosperous face decay and often have no hopeful future outlook. Post-industrial towns face major unemployment and poverty and are not typically places for re-investment. But Rust Belt cities like Baltimore, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee and St. Louis are not the only post- industrial hubs that are struggling. Many small towns in rural areas once thrived from manufacturing and are becoming forgotten. Local governments, policy makers, urban planners, developers and scholars are working to figure out how to revive these dying cities and towns.

Some scholars argue that making cities diverse, inclusive, artsy, foody, gay-friendly, healthy, vibrant and creative is the answer to the post-industrial problem. In doing so, cities and towns will attract what they call the “Creative Class,” a large, highly-educated and creative chunk of the labor force that associated with economic growth. Waterville, Maine is a rural, post- industrial mill town that has been plagued by poverty and unemployment since the decline of its paper mills and factories during the twentieth century. This town is seeing major changes as a Waterville college is pouring millions of dollars into its downtown to revitalize it. Partners in the revitalization effort seek to bring vibrancy, economic growth and employment through their work and money. Colby College and the City of Waterville are employing many of the strategies suggested by Creative Class scholars. This essay seeks to examine the varying attitudes, desires and opinions of the town’s community members. Will a lack of consensus impede the revitalization efforts?


Downtown Waterville, Revitalization, Community Input, History of Waterville, Post-industrial, gentrification