Newly Formed Workforce and Economic Future Committee Conduct First Meeting

Posted on January 28, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Today, the new Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future held its first committee meeting in the Energy, Utilities, and Technologies committee space (Rm 211 of the Cross Building). The first item of business included introductions of committee members and staff. Then Charles “Wick” Johnson of Kennebec Technologies spoke to the committee about his experience with the skills gap issues he faces in running his business.

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There was significant discussion and presentations about the current landscape of Maine’s economy, including work force development, skills gap, small business and economic engines such as down towns and Main Street areas of Maine communities.

Presenters included:

· Charles Colgan, Muskie School for Public Service, USM

· Jim Clair, CEO, Good Health Systems; Chair, Consensus Economic Forecasting Committee

· John Dorrer, Jobs for the Future

· Ed Cervone, President and CEO of Maine Development Foundation

“It’s clear we have a lot of work to do and what we heard today is that we need to focus on the very issues that this committee is designed for,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, who also serves as the Senate chair for the workforce committee. “We need to develop the skill sets of our workers so they’re aligned with Maine’s businesses, strengthen our economic hubs, like our Main Streets and downtowns, and grow our small businesses.”

During the presentation, Dr. Colgan noted that Maine has a “severe worker availability problem on the immediate horizon and it will be with us for the next 20 years.” He added that Maine lags behind the rest of the nation with high-paying occupations requiring advanced education. He also noted that Maine’s “business problem” is related more to “growing small businesses into medium-sized businesses. “

“The committee got off to a strong start today with an excellent overview of our state’s economy that will inform our legislation to strengthen our workforce, downtowns, and small businesses,” said House Majority Leader Representative Seth Berry, who serves as the House chair for the committee. “We’re confident that input from such experts and the public will help us develop effective measures to grow our economy and middle class.”

The joint select committee will work with experts and industry leaders to formulate a plan to improve Maine’s economy. Democrats said the plan would build on the bipartisan work done last session to streamline regulations.

The next scheduled meeting is for February 4th. On February 6th, the committee will travel to Bangor to speak with local business leaders, educators, employers, and workers to learn more about workforce development and skills gap issues as they apply to the greater Bangor area.

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Here is a list with biographies of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and the Economic Future Committee members:

Senate Chair
Senator Seth Goodall (D-Richmond), the Senate Majority Leader, is serving his third term in the Senate representing District 19 (Sagadahoc County). He is the cofounder of Goodall Landscaping, a small business now owned by his brother that employs nearly 30 people. While a selectman in his hometown of Richmond, he focused on revitalizing the downtown and creating jobs. He also served on the Economic Community Development Board, and currently serves on the Maine Economic Growth Council, a project of the Maine Development Foundation. The MEGC was established to develop a long-range economic plan for the state and to measure progress in achieving the plan’s benchmarks and goals via the annual release of the Measures of Growth report on the Maine economy.

House Chair

Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), the House Majority Leader, is a fourth-term legislator who has served as ranking minority member of the Taxation Committee, Assistant House Majority Leader, and a member of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. A former teacher, he is now vice president for international business development of Kennebec River Biosciences in Richmond.

Members

  • Rep. Paul Bennett (R-Kennebunk) is serving his second term in the House. He received a B.S. in Accounting from Bentley University and is a member of the National Federation of Independent Business. He has been a small business owner for nearly 25 years. He serves on the Taxation Committee.
  • Rep. Paul Gilbert (D-Jay) is a third-term legislator who serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee. After completing his service in the Army, Gilbert gained both private and public sector management experience in supermarkets and as a job service manager at the Maine Department of Labor.
  • Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) is a first-term legislator serving on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. She is a small business owner who works with non-profit organizations, schools, and other small businesses to help them secure funding for vital projects.
  • Rep. Peter Johnson (R-Greenville) is serving his fourth term in the House. A retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, he has worked as a consultant for Argon Engineering, a program manager for Lockheed-Martin, a Business Development Manager for Raytheon Corporation, and a Program Manager for Engineering Research Associates. He holds an MBA from the University of Maine. He is also a member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.
  • Senator Roger Katz (R-Augusta) is serving his second term in the Senate representing District 24 (Augusta, China, Oakland, Sidney, and Vassalboro). Senator Katz is the Assistant Senate Minority Leader, and also serves on the Government Oversight Committee. He is the former mayor of Augusta, and was the Chair of Augusta Development Corporation.
  • Senator Brian Langley (R-Ellsworth) is serving his second term in the Senate representing District 28 (Hancock County). He also serves on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, and is the owner of the Union River Lobster Pot restaurant in Ellsworth. Senator Langley spent more than 27 years teaching culinary arts at Hancock County Technical Center, where he emphasized workforce development through industry and education partnerships.
  • Rep. Joyce Maker (R-Calais) is serving her second term in the House. She is a retired college Administrator and Financial Aid Director, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and the Maine Municipal Association Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.
  • Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio (D-Sanford) is a first-term legislator serving on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee. She brings her experience as vice chair of the Sanford Economic Growth Council and as a local elected official to the committee.
  • Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig (D-Cape Elizabeth) is a second-term legislator serving on the Judiciary Committee. Her professional background includes work in tourism marketing, project and event management, online publishing, and ballet instruction.
  • Rep. Terry Morrison (D-South Portland) is a third-term legislator serving on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. His small business experience includes running The Works Café in Portland and J.P. Thornton’s in South Portland, and serving as general manager of the Inn at St. John in Portland.
  • Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake (R-Turner) is serving his second term in the House. He is the owner of Ricker Hill Orchards, an eighth generation family farm that is one of the largest apple farms in New England. He also manages about 2000 acres of forest land, and owns Northland TrueValue and Northland Holder Inc. He serves on the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee.
  • Senator Linda Valentino (D-Saco) is serving her first term in the Senate representing District 5 (Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Dayton, Buxton, and part of Biddeford). She also serves on the Transportation Committee and is the Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Prior to her election to the Senate, Senator Valentino served four terms in the Maine House where she sponsored legislation to provide seed capital for businesses and served on the Joint Select Committee of Business Regulatory Fairness and Reform.
  • Senator Richard Woodbury (U-Yarmouth) is serving his second term in the Senate representing District 11 (Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gray, Long Island, North Yarmouth, and Yarmouth). Senator Woodbury is an economist and the only Independent in the Maine Senate. His economics work deals with pension plans, health and disability, population aging, and tax policy. He also serves on the Insurance and Financial Services, and Marine Resources Committees, and he is a member of the GrowSmart Maine and Envision Maine advisory boards.
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  • Weekly Democratic Address of House Majority Leader Seth Berry (Bowdoinham): Outlining Maine Workforce & Economic Future Committee Goals

    Posted on January 26, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    Audio link here.

    Seth Berry File Photo 2012 cropped

    Good morning.

    I’m Representative Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the House Majority Leader in Augusta. Thank you for tuning in.

    This week brought us an exciting development in our efforts to secure long-term prosperity for our state. We launched the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. This group will develop legislation to strengthen Maine’s workforce, downtowns and small businesses. I was honored to be named co-chair of this Committee along with Senator Seth Goodall, and we look forward to working with the thirteen other Republican, Independent, and Democratic members.

    We all know Maine’s economy needs a boost. We were the only New England state whose economy shrunk in 2011. And we were one of only seven states in the nation to experience that kind of backslide.

    Too many Mainers are unemployed or underemployed because of our economy. While other states recover, more than fifty-thousand Mainers remain without work. And on this cold winter morning, too many of our neighbors are faced with having to choose between breakfast, heating fuel, or medicine.

    These are sobering facts, but we must remember all that Maine has going for it. We must focus on what is possible and positive, and work together to make that happen.

    We have a workforce that rightly takes pride in its Yankee ingenuity and work ethic. Our state is home to main streets and downtowns that are natural community hubs and economic engines. And the small businesses that power our state’s economy can also help pull us out of the ditch today.

    Building on these strengths — our workforce, our downtowns, and our small businesses — we can grow our economy and our middle class.
    And so, this jobs committee will tackle our workforce skills gap. In the next five years, four-thousand jobs will be unfilled, just because of a mismatch between worker skills and employer needs. This is an area where Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and build new public-private partnerships.

    The committee will also work to revitalize our downtowns: our historic mill towns and ports, our gateways to Canada and Katahdin, our centers of enterprise and exchange. The high-tech export firm I work for chose Main Street in Richmond because of its sidewalks, storefronts and services. A friend’s business chose Belfast because of its convenience, community, and quality of life. A new sign on the highway may be a start, but it takes a vibrant community to make a business owner want to set up shop and make long-term investments.

    Third, the jobs committee will focus on small businesses, which are 95% of all our businesses. We will look for ways to help small businesses lower costs, modernize, benefit from public and private research and development, to scale up, and compete in the global economy­.

    These are solid, positive ways to grow our middle class. They contrast to the policies pursued by Governor LePage. Earlier this week, for instance, Fitch Ratings announced a downgrade of Maine’s credit rating. Three concerns cited were the Governor’s unpaid bill for over $400 million in tax breaks largely for the wealthy – a bill he now proposes to shift to local communities and homeowners – the contentious tone he has set in Augusta, and the overall economic downturn since he took office.

    The news was sobering, but not surprising. It was a reminder that there are consequences for our actions and attitudes in Augusta, and that there has never been a better time to put Maine back to work.
    That’s why Democrats are seeking meaningful job-related investment – in areas like research and development and infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

    In contrast, the governor would borrow a hundred million dollars to build a new prison and pay other debt by borrowing more money secured by future liquor sales. More prison beds, cheaper alcohol, and more borrowing from Wall Street do not make a plan that helps Main Street or Maine compete.

    Meanwhile, the Governor still has not released more than a hundred million dollars in voter-approved bonds that should be putting Mainers to work today. These bonds would support jobs in transportation, higher education construction and clean water improvements with up to a five-to-one federal match.

    Maine people have sent us a clear message: get the economy moving again and strengthen the middle class. That is the mission of the bipartisan Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future.

    This is Representative Seth Berry. Thank you for listening. Have a wonderful weekend.

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