When our new Legislature begins the first 2015 session, there will be a lot of talk about creating good-paying jobs and attracting new businesses to Maine.

Maine needs to do both, but before we get lost in partisan rhetoric, it would be good to consider the results of a recent survey published in Area Development magazine, which ranked site selection factors most influencing corporate executives considering the location of a business.

The leading factor, according to respondents, is the availability of a skilled workforce. Highway accessibility and labor costs were a close second and third.

Availability of advanced information and communication technology services ranked fifth. Corporate tax rate ranked seventh, state and local incentives eighth, and energy availability and costs 10th.

Tax exemptions and right-to-work laws tied for 11th. Environmental regulations came in 17th. The availability of unskilled labor placed 24th, followed by railroad service at 25th, and lastly, waterway or ocean port accessibility at 26th.

There was no mention of state income tax rates. This is because the first priority of locating a business is to ensure that the business will be successful. There is no point in locating a business in a state with low income tax rates if the business will not generate sufficient income in that location to cover costs and generate profits.

Yet there is a strong belief in conventional wisdom that lowering personal income tax rates is high on the list of CEO considerations, and that if we lower the rates in Maine, businesses will flock to our state. It won’t happen. There are far too many other important factors to consider.

We will be much better served if our Legislature concentrates on improving access to affordable higher education, expanding high-speed Internet coverage and lowering energy costs, making these our highest priorities.

Tom Foley

Cumberland Foreside