AUGUSTA – I was struck by a story in this newspaper about Kevin Springer, who recently moved his high-tech Web design business, Headspace, to Kennebunkport (“Web developer sees Maine as potential market,” Aug. 15).

Springer, a young entrepreneur, told the newspaper that Maine’s small market presented an excellent opportunity to expand his company.

I couldn’t agree more.

That’s why I worked with fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass laws that will attract businesses like Springer’s to our state and allow companies that are already here to hire more employees, generating good-paying, high-quality jobs for Maine citizens.

From manufacturers to tech firms and financial companies, southern Maine businesses have gotten a boost from a law that expands tax exemptions to companies that are hiring Maine people. The program known as Pine Tree Zones exempts eligible companies in the zone area from paying corporate income taxes for the first five years of operation and eliminates the sales tax on most purchases for 10 years.

DOMINO EFFECT

Pine Tree Zones were originally located only in northern and midcoast Maine. But legislation during the 124th Legislature expanded the zones to also include areas in York and Cumberland counties.

virtue of this law, companies such as Portland Shellfish Co., PowerPay in Portland and M.C. Faulkner & Sons of Buxton have already added or will add jobs right here in our local communities. The result is a domino effect that improves the bottom line for our local restaurants and stores.

Financial experts expect the expansion to yield hundreds of new jobs. According to the Department of Labor, since the inception of the program 8,194 jobs have been created, many of which pay well and provide health insurance and benefits.

While our state is suffering from the effects of one of the worst recessions on record, the Legislature has passed several additional laws that foster a pro-business environment, from targeted tax relief to bond investments. We passed tax relief to protect core tourism-driven industries, including marine trades and boat building.

The Legislature also laid the groundwork for entrepreneurs to have easier access to capital — one of the primary stumbling blocks to launching a new company. In a state where small businesses account for 79 percent of the companies, access to cash-on-hand is vital for stimulating the market.

INFRASTRUCTURE HELPS

Plus, the significant bond package, which was approved by voters this June, is already putting people to work to make much-needed improvements to our roads, rails and ports. Ensuring that these vital links are maintained is key to growing existing businesses and attracting new ones.

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, each additional dollar spent on public infrastructure benefits businesses and households by as much as $1.37. Now that’s a real return on our investment that will translate to more money in the pockets of Maine people.

In Portland and southern Maine alone, we can expect the investment in expanding the ship berth to generate hundreds of local jobs. The bond package funds the deep-water pier in Portland at $6.5 million, enhancing the economic potential of the harbor, improving our global competitiveness and drawing thousands of new tourists to Maine.

Taken together, these laws will help facilitate the kind of strategic economic development Maine needs to emerge stronger from the recession.

The thoughtful approach draws on a combination of long-term and short-term investments that provide businesses with the right tools to make Maine their new home, so we can continue to attract companies like Kevin Springer’s.