A group that represents nonprofit businesses in Maine wants to know why Gov. Paul LePage is excluding it from workshops designed to share ideas for creating jobs and improving Maine’s economy.

Brenda Peluso, public policy director for the Maine Association of Nonprofits, said in an article on the group’s website that she asked the governor’s office for a seat at one of LePage’s upcoming workshops because she wanted to talk about barriers to job creation that nonprofits face.

When she asked the governor’s office why her request was denied, Lauren LePage, the governor’s assistant to the chief of staff, replied in an email Friday that the governor wants to hear directly from business leaders about their hurdles to creating jobs.

“Because the goal is to hear firsthand from businesses, first priority will be given to them with seating,” Lauren LePage wrote. “If the situation changes as the event nears, I would be happy to include you on an alternate list and contact you.”

The governor will host three workshops: on Wednesday at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, on Oct. 26 at Husson University in Bangor, and on Nov. 17 at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

His press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, said in an email Monday that, “These workshops are focused on private enterprises which are the core source of job creation in Maine.”

However, she said, “There are several nonprofits that will be attending the upcoming workshops, i.e., Good Shepherd Food Bank, Good Will-Hinckley, and several hospitals.”

Peluso could not be reached for comment Monday. In her email to Lauren LePage, she said nonprofit businesses employ 82,000 people in Maine. Only the retail sector employs more people, she said.
She said nonprofits provide services that cannot be outsourced and are often the economic backbone of rural Maine.

Another nonprofit, Environment Northeast, said it also was excluded from the governor’s workshops. Beth Nagusky, director of the organization’s Maine office in Rockport, said the group’s request to speak about jobs in the energy efficiency industry was denied by the Governor’s Office.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: [email protected]