The Maine State Chamber of Commerce strongly supports and thanks Gov. Mills for developing and proposing the Dirigo Business Incentive Program. The Dirigo proposal is a critical investment in Maine businesses and workforce, and its people and economy. We urge Maine lawmakers to support this important program and the economic prosperity of the state.

At the center of the Maine State Chamber’s mission are thousands of employers of all sizes and sectors across Maine. The chamber’s representation helps ensure that Maine employers have the tools they need to succeed, grow and employ more Maine people. Our mission includes making sure Maine’s current and future workforce has the skills and training they need to meet their fullest potential and the demands of the economy. Business incentive programs play an important role in both.

The Dirigo Business Incentive Program, which provides an income tax credit to businesses for workforce training and capital investment, will help Maine businesses train and upskill workers, build infrastructure, expand product lines and markets and attract new capital investment to our state. It is a critical tool in helping to level the playing field for Maine businesses that are competing with other states.

At the Maine State Chamber, when we decide on policy priorities and positions, we consider the interconnectedness of Maine people, their overall well-being and the impact a strong economy has on their ability to succeed. Instead of issue silos, we look at the big picture and consider how policies work, independently and together, to benefit Maine people and the Maine economy.

We prefer the word “and” over the “either-or” proposition that recent guest columnist Maura Pillsbury of the Maine Center for Economic Policy seems to take on economic policy priorities and investments for Maine (Commentary, June 18). Our state has limited resources, and a balanced state budget is a requirement. That has not stopped the chamber from supporting programs that to some, seem outside of the normal mission of a large business association – including programs that strengthen early learning and child care in our state, and – while we do not support the current paid family and medical leave proposal, L.D. 1964 – we do support and are continuing efforts to develop a paid family and medical leave program that is workable and sustainable for all.

The success of Maine employers and the success of Maine workers are interdependent. When Maine businesses do well, Maine people have greater opportunities to prosper – and vice versa. We support growing and strengthening all Maine employers and helping all Maine people succeed – across all economic sectors and with equity at the forefront.

Regarding the Dirigo Business Incentive Program, while we find Ms. Pillsbury’s position mistaken, we appreciate her calling attention to our latest Making Maine Work report. These reports, conducted annually in partnership with the Maine Development Foundation and Educate Maine, survey Maine businesses on their top priorities and concerns. Our organizations use survey findings to establish strategies and policy recommendations aimed at addressing each priority and concern. Altogether, the goal of the reports is to strengthen Maine businesses, workforce, people and communities. The 2018 report, in fact, was instrumental in helping to develop Maine’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy.

We also appreciate a Maine Economic Growth Council quote Ms. Pillsbury included in her column: “Maine’s economy cannot flourish, and cannot create the opportunities Maine people desire, unless our workforce is large and skilled enough to support growing businesses.”

The Dirigo Business Incentive Program will help achieve just that. That is why the Maine State Chamber of Commerce supports the governor’s proposed program. The Legislature’s Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business voted unanimously to support it, and we hope all Maine legislators will follow suit by voting to fund it. Otherwise, Maine people, businesses and our economy will be disadvantaged – having no state business incentive program at all.

Comments are no longer available on this story