At its annual meeting last week, the Brunswick Downtown Association honored Bowdoin College as its Member of the Year. The award is granted anually to an outstanding member of the Brunswick community and President Barry Mills attended to accept the award on behalf of the College.

Mills spoke at the event about Bowdoin’s extensive contributions to Brunswick and the surrounding areas. Bowdoin employs nearly a thousand individuals and pays over $40 million each year in salaries to local residents. There are “more than a half million dollars every year in payments by the College to the Town of Brunswick in a variety of forms, and millions more for special projects,” said Mills in his remarks.

Town Manager Gary Brown said relations with the College are “exceptional.” There are regular town-gown meetings between town officials and Bowdoin personnel, and the Brunswick Police Department is in regular communication with Bowdoin Security and the dean’s office. There are also close ties between the town Department of Parks and Recreation and the College’s athletic department.

Brown also highlights that the town and College have engaged in mutually beneficial deals for property exchanges. The College gave the town the McLellan Building in exchange for the Longfellow School and the two parties are engaged in talks regarding the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

The College and Bowdoin students support the local economy, spending nearly $5 million and $2 million respectively on goods and services last year alone. Tens of thousands of visitors, from prospective students and families to returning alumni, come through Brunswick each year solely because of the College.

Additionally, the College made a $10,000 donation to the Brunswick Downtown Association last year, according to its 2010-2011 Form 990, which is the College’s yearly tax filing. The same report shows that the College donated over $100,000 to the town of Brunswick itself.

Bowdoin acts as a cultural center in Brunswick and offered 1,300 lectures, concerts, and related events open to the public last year, according to the Bowdoin College Economic Impact report. The Bowdoin International Music Festival is also sponsored by the College and the Maine State Music Theater while the Museum of Art attracts 50,000 people annually.

Mills said upon accepting the award that Bowdoin students “provide thousands of hours volunteering in our local schools, shelters, nonprofits, and throughout Brunswick. They entertain our community in the theater, recital hall, hockey rink, basketball court, dance studio, and art shows.”

President Mills also recognized the positive impact the town has on Bowdoin. He recounted how many of the College’s peer schools apologize for their location, whereas Bowdoin embraces the Brunswick community.

Brown said that from speaking with a Waterville town administrator, “[Brunswick has] a much better relationship with Bowdoin than Waterville has with Colby.” As far as Lewiston’s relations with Bates, he said, “I don’t think it could be better than what we have here.”