Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Job Creators have Positive Outlook on Maine’s Business Climate

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Listen here.

Small businesses in Maine are the backbone of our economy.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Last month, my administration introduced the Governor’s Business Survey in an effort to learn more about the needs of our job creators throughout the State.

So far, nearly 500 businesses have provided feedback that will help us develop policy that will spur job creation and economic growth.

While this survey is not yet conclusive, I am sharing with you a snapshot of what we have learned from those who have responded. The final analysis will come this fall.

The results thus far identify what businesses see as benefits that they currently enjoy here in Maine and that which they would like to see prioritized for change.

Quality of life was most consistently rated as the best part of doing business in Maine, while businesses clearly stated that workforce issues are what they would like see the biggest focus on in the future.

In every question where workforce issues were raised it was immediately clear that businesses feel this should be a top priority for the administration. Forty-four percent of respondents said that they are not confident they have access to a quality workforce here in Maine.

Attracting and recruiting talent, retaining talent, and access to trained workers were all rated as “critical” or “very important.” Fifty to sixty percent of respondents listed these areas as challenges faced by their business, all of which are major workforce issues.

While most workforce needs will, for the most part, remain relatively consistent for the future according to respondents, the largest growth will be seen in the need for employees with technical and vocational certificates and bachelor’s degrees. The need for employees with these credentials will increase by 25 to 30 percent.

Other challenges that businesses consistently stated they faced were managing in an unpredictable economic climate, identifying growth opportunities, and healthcare costs.

Infrastructure concerns were also raised, specifically natural gas is an area that businesses would like to see improvement. Currently, my administration is seeking to lower the State’s energy costs by expanding natural gas. The estimated savings by converting state buildings in Augusta could be $1.5 million per year and reduce oil usage by 1.2 million gallons per year based on current prices. This important infrastructure will also help lower prices for homes and businesses along the way. Pellet heating technology will also generate savings for Mainers.

During our latest round of job creation summits across Maine all of these concerns were raised. Additionally, job creators keep telling us that government regulations continue to hinder job growth.

Businesses are pleased to see an administration with a different attitude, and have noticed positive changes when dealing with state agencies. That being said, they also emphasized that adding new requirements mid-way through a project can be costly, and burdensome. They agree that they are more than willing to be presented a list of requirements and regulations up front, so everyone is clear on expectations and they can avoid additional requirements half way through a project. Our job creators are right. They should have clear expectations from start to finish and this is something our departments are working on now.

Some more positive feedback we’re receiving points to the fact that the Department of Environmental Protection is becoming more helpful in working with businesses to bring common sense to Maine’s regulatory environment. When it’s done in a balanced manner, we can make the economy and the environment work together to benefit Mainers.

It’s reassuring to hear that my administration overall has been a welcome change for business-owners and they feel as though we have made great steps to change the culture and the relationship between the public and private sectors.

For more information about Maine’s Business Survey please visit Maine.gov and click on the Department of Economic and Community Development link or the Governor’s website. Let us know what you think, we’re listening.

Maine has 40,000 small businesses and I’d like to see every single one take part in the survey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent. It will take us all working together to improve the business climate. I’m asking for your help to continue to turn Maine around.

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