AUGUSTA – Getting input directly from private-sector businesses will help make Maine prosperous.

The primary focus of Gov. LePage’s administration is jobs. It is critical that we introduce policies that will help our job creators succeed, expand and provide good jobs for Maine people. Gov. LePage has made it very clear: This administration is focused on and committed to making Maine prosperous.

In 2011, the administration heard from dozens of businesses that have pledged investments in Maine totaling $100 million and plan to create more than 1,000 good-paying new jobs. We brought back American jobs from overseas with the opening of Carbonite in Lewiston, and worked diligently to make sure the restarting of Great Northern Paper in Millinocket was a success.

Gov. LePage has shown a commitment to making Maine “Open for Business” by introducing, supporting and signing legislation that reduces the tax burden on hardworking Mainers and job creators, reduces red tape and institutes market-based health care reform, all geared toward creating private-sector jobs here in Maine.

Workers’ compensation rates are down, and the unemployment rate has decreased under the leadership of this administration.

Gov. LePage has made it very clear that the only job that state government can create is another government job. However, what we can do in Augusta is work to change the environment by which jobs are created in the private sector. The administration has made some progress, but we firmly believe more can be done to improve Maine’s economy.

The commitment of this administration to job creation is why the governor is hosting another series of workshops on job creation.

These working sessions are designed for business leaders to share ideas regarding job creation in Maine with the governor, state officials and fellow business leaders to improve Maine’s economy. The ultimate goal is to develop sound policy that will strengthen Maine’s private sector, resulting in more economic opportunity for Maine people.

The workshops last time were very successful, gaining great feedback from the business community. Once again, Gov. LePage is going to roll up his sleeves and work with the business community to get Maine’s economy moving forward. These workshops will be industry-specific and are free for attendees.

The initial event is being held at Southern Maine Community College, located at its Midcoast Campus at Brunswick Landing. The event will cover fishing, marine resources and coastal tourism.

Future events will be held across the state over the months of June, July and August and are expected to cover the industries of forestry, farming, information technology and manufacturing.

The goal of these workshops is to solicit input from the business community on a range of specific topics, to gauge how each topic affects Maine’s job creators. The topics include lowering energy costs, developing a skilled work force, reducing red tape and promoting Maine products and getting them to market through the “Maine Brand.”

The farming and forestry workshops are also expected to collect input and suggestions on the new Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry.

Each workshop will provide the administration the opportunity to listen to the needs of Maine’s business community. It is critical that we reach out to the private-sector business community to gather feedback about which policies will help them expand and create jobs, while still maintaining Maine’s pristine quality of life.

Our natural resources-based industries here in Maine, as well as high-tech and manufacturing jobs, provide a comprehensive overview of the future of Maine’s economy. We must strike a balance between protecting Maine’s environment and allowing businesses to expand and provide good jobs for Mainers.

We can no longer afford to pass up any economic opportunity in our state. State government is taking a proactive approach to improving Maine’s economy, and our continued dialogue with the Maine business community is a critical component to our efforts. 

John Butera is senior economic policy adviser to Gov. Paul LePage.