Monday, March 10, 2014
Chris Hall is the CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber. He’s been working in Chambers of Commerce in Maine for over 20 years, and Notes from the Chamber will bring you his perspective and comment on what’s happening in the Portland region that’s most important to our economy today and tomorrow.
We hear so much about how Maine isn't competitive with states that have lower taxes. For years the debate around Maine's tax burden has centered on the assumption that Maine would be a more attractive place to live and work if only we could reduce our taxes.
Well guess what - we were wrong! In fact since 1995 we've been winning the battle to attract wealth to Maine.
Travis H. Brown is the Author of How Money Walks, a book that details the in-flow and out-flow of wealth on a state by state basis over the last 15 years. Take a look at Brown's data for Maine's gain and loss of wealth since 1995. You'll see that, on net, we've gained over $1.5 billion in adjusted gross income with the strongest gains coming in the last 10 years.
Brown spoke at the Blaine House yesterday and urged Maine to consider lower income taxes so we can attract even more wealth from neighboring New England states. Given the state budget crunch that may be difficult to do.
America's Edge is a nationwide coalition of business leaders who work to strengthen the economy through proven investments in children. The group conducts research to find out what works, then urges policy makers to invest in proven strategies that boost educational outcomes and improve economic opportunities.
Last week America's Edge released Keeping Maine Competitive, a detailed report on how our state can invest in educational success. It's not long - 16 pages - and it's worth reading.
So what works? The report details success stories at Lake Region High School, at Cianbro, and throughout the state in the programs of Jobs for Maine's Graduates,
The challenges are significant, and the report also outlines what we need to overcome. Better graduation rates, learning more connected to the changing economy, and a lifetime commitment to expanding skills are just some of the outcomes we need to improve in Maine.
This morning Portland School Superintendent Manny Caulk and I held a press conference announcing the first-ever Portland Principal for a Day program. The Portland Regional Chamber and the Portland Schools are bringing business CEO's into each of the City's 16 schools for a day to work side by side with each school principal.
Building business-education relationships is a critical part of improving schools. By pairing up principals with CEO's we hope to catch magic in a bottle.
It isn't enough for the business community to say they want better schools - we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work side by side with our education partners.
So sometime this week in every school in Portland a CEO and a Principal will be spending the day together. They'll visit with students, inspect facilities and talk to staff. They CEO's will learn more about the challenges involved in running a complex institution - and so will the principals.
Last week I had the chance to participate in a press conference highlighting the importance of clinical drug trials in our region's economy.
What I learned might surprise you - drug research in Maine supports thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in payroll. It's a quiet part of our economy that contributes significantly to our hi-tech culture. Not to mention that it saves lives.
Right now there are 28 active clinical drug trials going on in our region, mostly at Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital. Among the diseases begin researched are cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Many of the drugs being tested today will contribute to the medical tool kit for years to come.
Beyond the big numbers and the lives saved, clinical research connects directly to small business in our region.
No, not Kickstarter. That's a different post.
John Marshall hosts the show. I had the good fortune of meeting him last night at an open house for the new WPXT studio in Westbrook (4 Ledgeview Drive - great facility!). John and I spent some time talking about how a simple experience like being on a kid's show can change your life - just like it did for him.
We also talked about how important it is to connnect young people to success - not just the best and the brightest, but ALL kids. And Kick Start provides just the right mix of fun, facts and encouragement to make that happen.