SKOWHEGAN — Profit is not a dirty word.

That was the message Wednesday from Gov. Paul LePage during the annual meeting of the Maine Wood Products Association.

Truck-weight limits, restrictions on biomass usage, regulatory fees, tree-growth statutes and tax incentives, foreign competition, relationships with the state’s labor unions and President Obama’s health care plan all stand in the way of good jobs and prosperity, he said.

LePage said that if the state is going to prosper, he needs small business owners, including those in attendance Wednesday, to help loosen the regulations on wood harvesting, forestry practices, manufacturing and delivery.

“It’s in your hands and the hands of the people of Maine, if, in fact, we want to reverse the trend of high taxes, high regulation and the high cost of energy and insurance,” LePage told the gathering of about 80 people. “We have to become more flexible in regulations, streamline regulations, shrink state government and shrink taxation.

“We need to find some balance between the quality of life and a sustainable, good, green environment.”

The Maine Wood Products Association was established in the mid-1990s to assist the manufacture and marketing of wood products, such as furniture, flooring, wooden toys and even skateboard decks, said Executive Director Bob MacGregor. Annual membership ranges between 80 and 100 people, he said.

Association president Alan Chesney said the group is nonpartisan.

“We represent a diverse membership, everything from major industry leaders to one- and two-man artisan shops,” Chesney said. “The association itself is a nonpolitical group. We’re able to bring world-class educational programs to the state for the industry, to market the Maine-made mystique, and support the business efforts for small-business people.”

LePage said liberals who have wanted to “close the woods off” and advocate the preservation of wild lands have attended public hearings and gotten restrictive measures passed. Now, the governor said, it’s time to have business people show up and be heard. He encouraged association members to attend upcoming public hearings before the Legislature.

“We’ve been having these red tape audits across the state; right now we have like 280 regulations that the business community has asked us to reform,” he said. “Get government out of the way and let the small, private sector make money.”

LePage said Forbes Magazine ranked Maine 50th in having a favorable business climate, 47th in the cost of doing business and 16th in quality of life.

“We’re going to make changes, so if you want prosperity in the state of Maine, I challenge you to follow our lead and come to Augusta and testify,” he said. “We are going need the business community to step up to the plate and help us.”

The governor said he plans to work with Land for Maine’s Future to ensure a “working forest” in Maine where families make their living from the woods, while preserving deer yards and wildlife habitat.

“We’re not going to be ripping environmental laws apart, what we are going to do is streamline them to try to be flexible,” he said.

LePage quoted a letter from a woman in the Somerset County town of Bingham who told him that job losses in the woods since the 1970s have led to stores and restaurants closing in there.

“She’s saying, ‘Is it too late, or can we turn it around?’ and that’s what our administration is all about,” he said. “I will not crack and I will not back down from the mission of making Maine a more prosperous state. Our aim is to find a balance between prosperity and the environment.”