Harold Clossey, president and chief executive officer of the Maine Development Foundation, was born and raised in Washington County. He was director of the Sunrise County Economic Development Council before he assumed his current post this week.
The nonprofit MDF provides leadership training and annually issues the “Measures of Growth,” a report card assessing Maine’s progress on dozens of economic and social measures. The foundation also provides economic research for the public and legislators.
Q: How did you get the top job at MDF?
A: It’s an opportunity that I wasn’t necessarily looking for. I love Washington County and loved my job, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was quite surprised to see how similar the role was with my previous job – pretty freakishly. A lot of the same types of things in terms of developing businesses and making sure economic development and education are working together.
Q: How does the MDF work?
A: We’re a non-partisan organization that can provide a common ground for solving problems. We are able to bring legislators together with experts to talk about issues like health care, so they have a source for good, reliable information. We also do the Leadership Maine program, to give potential new leaders information about the issues facing Maine.
Q: What are some of the first things you’ll tackle?
A: We’re at the tail end of our strategic plan. The vision is to make sure we have strong coverage statewide, leverage what’s going on, and continue that growth that we need to sustain. We need to be planning ahead for our state and for the compromises that need to be made to make that happen. There’s a collective spirit of Mainers who love this state, who want to be here, and want good things for our communities, whether it’s urban or rural. Keep pushing that all forward, and be bold.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk lately about the aging and lack of growth in Maine’s population. Is this a top concern?
A: I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. There are a lot of great things that are going on in this state. We need to look at our assets, starting with our people and whether they have the tools and the skills to keep moving forward.
Q: How do you address those kinds of problems?
A: There are many people looking for work and many companies looking for workers, and it’s all about how we match those skills. Maybe it’s training programs. Maybe people need to finish a degree. It could be working with the Department of Economic Development to look at our indicators and what they show us about what we need to change now. If people leave, why are they leaving? Out-migration can be people leaving the state, or people leaving from the County, or people from rural areas coming to the urban centers. It runs across many strains and they’re all connected like a big blanket – there are many fibers in that and too much work to be done by trying to do it alone.
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: