In an election year in which some of the major candidates and the media have been criticized for seizing on less than serious issues, the state’s business community has come to the rescue.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Development Foundation have joined forces to survey over 1,000 business leaders to identify the most pressing issues facing our economy and suggesting ways to address them.

The resulting document, “Making Maine Work,” provides a good primer for voters who want to evaluate this year’s candidates on a serious basis and could also set the agenda for a new governor and Legislature when they take office next year.

The report and accompanying research is available online at, and is a must read for those waiting for the political season to get serious.

The report breaks little new ground, but it gives a clear illustration of the challenges that face the state’s economy, starting with our oldest-in-the-nation and getting-older-fast work force, and the high costs of doing business that result from high health care costs, high energy costs and high taxes.

The report also highlights Maine’s strengths, which start with its desirability as a place to live and its emerging economic sectors in biotechnology and alternate energy that could grow to complement the traditional job producing industries, such as tourism and forest products.

The business leaders make recommendations for state government investment in education, high-speed Internet and transportation infrastructure that will help the economy grow. Making those expenditures while balancing a budget that will have a built-in gap between existing programs and expected revenue will be the single greatest challenge for the next governor and the Legislature.

A good start will be finding out if candidates for those offices share these priorities, and if so, how they plan to make it work.