By Maine Governor John Baldacci
Hello. This is Governor John Baldacci.
I wanted to talk to you this morning about Maine’s economy, the national economy, what happened on the stock market yesterday and the global recession.
You know, in Maine we have seen 2,400 jobs lost during the past year. Our unemployment rate increased to 5.6 percent in September, that’s up from 4.9 percent just a year ago.
Our State is feeling the effects of a national economy that at times has appeared to be in freefall.
The stock market remains unstable and unpredictable, which translates into trouble for big and small businesses alike and leaves folks to watch desperately as their hard-earned savings slip away.
But as difficult as the national economy is – and as hard as it is to see the bright spots – I remain confident in Maine and our ability to endure the current crisis.
While unemployment is up in our State, so far we have done better than the nation as a whole. Nationally in September, unemployment was 6.1 percent.
And while we're worried about announcements we've seen about layoffs in our communities, we also saw just this week that Maine remains an attractive place to live and do business.
We just welcomed a first class company, Boston Financial to Maine this week.
This renowned financial services company is creating more than 200 new jobs in this State.
They're good jobs, they depend on a highly trained, dependable and professional workforce in the State of Maine.
Boston Financial didn't pick Maine on a whim or because it's owners and directors enjoy our beautiful coastline. Maine went head-to-head with about a dozen other states in a competitive process where they hired independent financial analysts to crunch the numbers.
And when Boston Financial made its final tally, Maine came out on top.
The company credits Maine’s top-rate work force as a major reason they decided to locate in our State. And according to their CEO Steve Hooley, they found that Maine would give them the educated, motivated work force to draw on.
The other reason, Mr. Hooley pointed out, they decided to locate in Maine because of the business-friendly environment that they found. So in addition to our world-class workforce, and the economic development tools we have put in place during the last six years, we have been able to compete with other places.
Particularly, Boston Financial was attracted by Maine's Pine Tree Zone program, which provides significant tax incentives to companies to create one job or 101 jobs in this State.
This program, which won bipartisan support in the Legislature, builds a level playing field to attract new businesses to Maine. And we all know that when given a fair chance and a level playing field, Maine workers and businesses can outshine and out-compete the competition.
And as was pointed out by Boston Financial’s CEO, there are not a lot of financial services companies opening new buildings right now and adding jobs. This company knew that Maine held a great opportunity for them to expand and taking advantage of that was their first order of business.
Also this week, we learned that Red Shield Environmental in Old Town was sold to a new owner, Patriarch Partners.
Patriarch Partners is a $6 billion international company that specializes in buying companies and turning them around.
I spoke with Lynn Tilton, the CEO, and I'm so impressed with her vision for Red Shield, her commitment to creating jobs and keeping them in the United States.
Red Shield Environmental in Old Town has a tremendous potential, both as a pulp mill and as a producer of alternative energy.
So when they bring back the over 160 workers and start to work on the state-of-the-art research and development and turn that aging mill into a new bio-refinery for the 21st century, we are going to be able to invigorate our forest products industry, get off our reliance on foreign oil, and I am so confident that that work is going to continue now.
So this is good news for the workers, good news for their families and the community in Old Town and the area and I look forward to seeing folks going back to work soon.
Maine cannot separate itself from the hardships our country faces.
We face a dangerous winter and perhaps the most difficult State budget in recent memory.
But we have made the prudent decisions that will help us to weather this storm.
We have conserved our natural resources. Our woods and water and wind will give us an opportunity to chart our own, secure course into the future.
And business development incentives, like the Pine Tree Economic Development Program that was created in Maine give us the opportunity to grow new jobs and compete on a level playing field in this global economy.
So, given an opportunity, Maine's workforce and its natural resources can outshine the competition.
Working together and sticking together and looking out for each other, we will recognize a bright opportunity so that we can make our country and State more independently secure, energy secure and making sure that our resources are protected for future generations.
Thank you very much.
The above content reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the policies of the National Governors Association.