AUBURN — Touting Maine’s clean air and water and its low crime rate, Republican gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody says he wants to develop a marketing plan to convince some of the 30 million tourists who visit the state each year to move here to help grow the state’s economy and workforce.

Moody, a Gorham businessman and the founder of a chain of auto body repair shops, rolled out a multi-point plan Thursday to attract business, grow jobs and increase wages for Maine workers.

“I think we ought to be able to successfully change Maine from ‘Vacationland’ to ‘Staycationland,’ ” Moody said during a news conference at FutureGuard, an awning manufacturing company. “There is no reason with a proper marketing strategy that we can’t capture some of these folks that love Maine, to stay here and raise their families here.”

Despite historically low unemployment, Maine’s economy is still a major issue. Maine’s aging population, losses of traditional manufacturing industries, stagnant wages and the lure of better-paying jobs in other states have resulted in a workforce shortage that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Moody said he would try to reinvigorate the dwindling workforce by luring back Maine natives who left the state for better economic opportunities.

He said his plan also calls for shifting the focus of public education more toward career and technical training than obtaining a four-year college degree.


“I’m a blue-collar guy,” Moody said. “Nobody knows blue collar like I do. We can’t have 40 to 45 percent of our student population, which isn’t financially prepared or capable, going off to college.”

Moody said technical careers for skilled tradespeople are paying starting wages of up to $60,000 a year. “And guess what – with zero student debt,” Moody said.

He said he would also create a hotline for businesses looking to build a company or bring jobs to the state. “We need a single point of contact for our businesses,” Moody said. “They don’t want to have to work their way up through the bureaucracy, seven or eight layers, like ‘Horton Hears a Who.’ ”

Moody also said he would find ways to expand broadband in rural Maine by building off existing broadband infrastructure in public schools, university campuses and libraries.

Democratic candidate Janet Mills, the state’s attorney general, rolled out her economic development plan in September .

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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