BANGOR – An economic report highlights key issues such as Maine’s working-age population and health care costs, which are key factors in the state’s future growth. This morning, leaders of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Development Foundation explained that report, and how it can help policy makers.
The event was the early bird breakfast. The topic was economic growth.
“Anytime we can get scores of leaders from a region in one place to be having the same conversation about the big picture challenges and committing to a common direction, that’s going to pay huge dividends over time,” said Maine Development Foundation President & CEO Yellow Light Breen.
The event showcased Maine’s Measures of Growth economic report card, which highlights different trends in Maine’s economy such as the decreasing working-age population.
“Over the next 15 years we’re going to go from about three working-age Mainers to every Mainer over 65 to just two working-age Mainers for every Mainer over 65,” said Breen.
“We have jobs, just not enough people and not enough people with skills,” said Maine State Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Dana Connors. “That’s an opportunity for us and that’s how we should see it.”
Other priorities include making Maine a leader in affordable high-speed broadband access and increasing the number of people seeking post-secondary education.
“Whether it’s education or whether it’s transportation, the need for business to be at the table, to participate with government is vital,” said Connors.
Some programs are already established to help improve economic growth, such as the Opportunity Maine Tax Credit.
“Which is the most generous state tax credit in the country for people who are working in Maine and paying off their student loans,” said Breen.
He also says the state needs to do a better job of marketing the opportunities Maine already has.
“Our challenge is to take those unbelievable high-performing examples in education and in our economy and figure out how to replicate those and make those the norm.” said Breen.