Maine is at the cusp of great change. People outside looking in see it – more than 10 international papers and magazines have written about it – but it’s hard for the people of Maine to grasp.
We hold on to security. Dreaming for the end of the rainbow ends up usually being just a dream. We work hard and expect to be treated fairly for our efforts. We generally don’t have the time to analyze or look into depth at what our state has been doing. We read headlines that often over sensationalize bad news when it comes to town and don’t offer hope.
Most of us don’t know that dramatic changes are happening within Maine as Gov. Baldacci has been implementing his vision – transitioning Maine into a knowledge-based global economy.
It’s impossible to point to just one issue the governor has tackled for there are so many all working in conjunction with each other. He understands how each issue is interrelated which has been key to success.
And it has been a success story.
People needed to be invested in. Maine’s natural resources needed to be invested in. That’s what Baldacci has done.
He started with creating a statewide community college network and a healthcare program that will eventually ensure all Mainers are covered.
At the same time he had critical assessments done on our natural resources, stopped clear cutting, green certified 7.25 million acres and preserved 750,000 acres for future generations.
Tax incentives that his Pine Tree Zones provide have helped create 3,200 jobs in areas in need. Over the last three and a half years 28,600 jobs in residential employment have been created -many of those workers use the internet – where Baldacci’s efforts have given companies incentives with his ConnectME program. Another proportion of those jobs are people involved in the creative economy – which Baldacci is a strong supporter of, providing resources and incentives for business start-ups.
From day one he worked to save jobs at mills and other businesses, and did so. More than 7,000 jobs have been saved because of this governor’s intervention. No other governor in living memory has worked so hard to make sure the people of this state have good jobs.
He worked day in and day out to save the shipyard in Portsmouth and the facility in Limestone from closing.
His efforts paid off – beating the odds. Only 11 percent ever stop the closures.
But its not enough to save jobs, those jobs have to be sustainable. Baldacci knows this and in the process of saving jobs he has helped companies transition into the 21st century economy. Mills are now high-tech and specialize in their products, not wasting any portion of the tree.
His bio-fuels and solar power tax incentives are making Maine more independent from using foreign fuels.
His fiscal responsibility has given the state a $149 million rainy day fund, which is a needed security net if the federal budget cuts back programs Maine needs. This forward thinker has positioned Maine for real sustained growth. Companies are responding. In Madison we have a new high-tech greenhouse facility that’s over four football fields long. It can grow vegetables year round and could revolutionize agriculture in Maine.
In Richmond we have a new company that’s adding value to Maine lobsters by using a new technology that makes it easy to shuck a lobster raw.
In Old Town a former mill is being transitioned into a bio-fuel producer where new technologies coming out of the Research and Development facility at the University of Maine in Orono are being used. It will also
be a business park.
The governor invested in R&D from day one and the results are exciting for Maine business. The boat building industry now has a consortium because the governor brought them together. Their sales are up and they are using the new composite technologies developed at the University of Maine.
Trade has doubled within the last year. More than $20 million in sales from cows to maple syrup and wood products were sold to Cuba last year.
Gov. Baldacci has put Maine on the map and has given the state a new exciting direction.
Ramona du Houx, of Solon, is a writer who owns a publishing company. She has done extensive research on the
new knowledge-based economy that Gov. Baldacci has been working on.