Jobs, jobs, and more jobs. Perhaps the only other topic discussed more than jobs is the weather!
Good Morning. This is State Senator Linda Valentino of Saco.
The issue of jobs and the economy is the single most important issue to most Mainers--and for good reason. Many Mainers are working two and three jobs, just to make ends meet. Others, have settled for working at lower-wage and lower-skilled jobs because they can’t find the kind of work they want. And with Maine ranking at the bottom of the pack, nationally, in private-sector job growth, you can understand why there’s anxiety about our state’s economy and job market.
As Senate Chair of the Legislature’s special Workforce Committee, I’ve spent the better part of two years learning from economic experts, business leaders, workers, and our state’s higher education leaders about the challenges facing Maine’s workforce, businesses, and economy.
And here’s what we know:
● Maine has an eager and hardworking workforce. But we’re losing some of our state’s most talented. We need more higher-skilled and higher-wage, innovative jobs to retain and recoup college grads.
● Maine is a leader in small business ownership and entrepreneurship. But, as former state economist Charlie Colgan likes to say: Maine doesn't have a small business problem, we have a medium-size business problem. Starting-up isn’t the problem; but taking that next step and growing is.
This session, the Workforce Committee passed a small-business, jobs’ bond package aimed at jumpstarting job creation among our state’s innovators, small businesses, and entrepreneurs.
It builds off of Maine’s competitive advantages, like our marine and agriculture economies, our technology clusters, and our small businesses. It will bolster Maine’s economic recovery efforts--and, it will do so in every corner of our state from Caribou to Kittery.
Perhaps what I’m most proud of, is that we did this together--Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. The committee put politics aside and worked on how to grow jobs for Mainers today. The result is a $73 million dollar bond package that is a different kind of bond package.
As you know, most of the time, bonds are focused on transportation, like building our roads and bridges. And that’s important.
Or, bond investments focus exclusively on Research and Development. That too is critical to a competitive and growing economy--but it can take years to reap the dividends.
This bond package will lead directly to commercializing and job creation now--in other words, it targets investments in existing programs, organizations, and businesses that are prepared to spawn new job growthtoday. Through competitive awards, the jobs-bond funds companies that have a proven track record of successand a strong prospect of creating jobs.
Earlier this week, nearly fifty people showed up to publicly support this bond and urge its passage. We heard from economists, local Chambers of Commerce as well as the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. We heard from a variety of business leaders from Domtar, Seafax, and Jackson Lab. Financial institutions like Bangor Savings Bank, Bath Savings Bank, FAME, and CEI. Workers, unions, and higher ed officials. All together with one voice urging the Maine Legislature to better position our state, their companies, and our workers for the jobs and the economy of the 21st century.
It is my hope that my legislative colleagues and the governor will follow the lead of the Workforce Committee and put politics aside to pass this measure and get Mainers working again and our economy growing.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator LindaValentino of Saco. Have a great weekend.
State and Local News