Maine needs small business and innovation bond package

Listen on SoundCloud at link below:

Majority Leader Berry’s Democratic Weekly Radio Address: Time for Small Business and Innovation Investment for Maine

We have to face some hard truths about Maine’s economy. We are struggling to shake off the effects of the recession. Others are passing us by when it comes to recovery, but Maine does have a great thing going for it when it comes to possibilities for job creation.

I have the honor of co-chairing the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. This bipartisan panel has done some really amazing work to spur job creation and move our economy forward.

Just last week, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a set of bond investments created by our committee, which are targeted to help small businesses grow, and to boost high tech innovation.

Many of these are long overdue investments that support the little guy:  small but promising businesses from around the state, as well as our farmers, foresters, and fishermen.

Maine needs these investments now to address our lagging job creation.  For the last few years, we have neglected our small businesses and our innovation economy.

At the same time, we’ve only recovered about half the jobs we lost in the recession. New England as a whole, meanwhile, has recovered virtually all of them.

In putting together this bond plan, our workforce committee started with the belief that Mainers are some of the best workers on the planet. We listened to the public and asked questions. How can we best help our workers thrive in today’s global economy? How can we best help Maine’s small businesses grow and create jobs?

The proposal reflects the very best of the ideas we heard.  More importantly, it reflects Maine’s true, powerful potential — the economic leader Maine can become if we put our minds to it. All told, the proposal would invest $40 million in key engines of economic growth.

The biggest portion would recapitalize financing programs that help promising small business access capital. These programs have proven track records of helping Maine companies to achieve rapid growth and job creation.

Here’s just one of many examples we heard about. Artel, in Westbrook, told us how it used these flexible loan programs to make each of its big jumps in its development. They started out with two guys who each had borrowed one-thousand dollars from family members. Today, they make highly sophisticated instruments used by crime labs looking at DNA, hospitals evaluating patient tests and pharmaceutical firms doing quality control. The company now has an international presence and more than 60 employees.

The bond proposal also builds on areas where Maine already enjoys competitive advantages.

One part would improve the laboratory at the Cooperative Extension, helping them better assist farmers and foresters to combat disease and insect threats. The other elements would invest in key areas on a competitive basis. They aim to boost the state’s marine economy, to develop a world-class biometric research facility for advanced cancer treatments and related research, to increase biotech workforce training, and to advance cutting edge tissue regeneration research to improve human health.

This proposal is a great example of bipartisan cooperation that shows how much we can do when we come together.

We’re looking forward to seeing Governor LePage sign it and send it to voters for their approval. Even more than that, we’re looking forward to seeing Maine’s small businesses prosper and more Maine workers in good-paying  21st century jobs.

Swan Island: Pearl of Merrymeeting Bay

SWAN ISLAND, KENNEBEC RIVER, RICHMOND

www.maine.gov/swanisland

For immediate release    Contact:   Lisa.Kane@maine.gov 557-0118

Swan Island: Pearl of Merrymeeting Bay:  Illustrated and Described

On Thursday May 1, 2014 from 6:15pm – 7:30pm; upstairs at The Old Goat, 33 Main Street, Richmond; join ‘place based’ historian Jay Robbins of Richmond as he shares gleanings from over 35 years of research on Swan Island, that 4 mile by ¾ mile island located in the Kennebec River between Richmond and Dresden at the head of Merrymeeting Bay. Once a Native American stronghold, the Island appears on every early map of Maine from the time of first European contacts. Soon it was resettled by the ‘New Peoples’.

Jay will explore the 17th and 18th century history of Swan Island, including a close look at the Noble/Whidden “Massacre” of 1750. You’ll see how the Pejepscot and Kennebec Proprietors finally settled their competing claims for ownership, and how the Island later became a summer “resort.” The Gardiner/Dumaresq house (c. 1763) is perhaps the oldest surviving house in New England built specifically as a summer home.  Soon the Island grew into the Town of Perkins (inc. 1847) with a population of almost 100. It was an Island of subsistence farmers who supplemented income through fishing and shipbuilding. Then the ice industry came to the Island. After that, decline. In 1918, when there were not enough people on Island to fill the required Town offices, the Town of Perkins disorganized and became the unorganized territory of Perkins Township.

Folks tried sheep farming and fox farming, but with the opening of the Richmond-Dresden Bridge in 1930, ferry service ended and the last of the Island residents moved off Island. In the early 1940s what is now Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife purchased the Island. It was improved for migratory waterfowl habitat, a deer repellant was developed to keep those pesky critters out of farmer’s fields, and one of Maine’s first moose was raised in captivity. Jerry the (Swan Island) Moose was moved to the Bronx Zoo in 1948.

Today, Swan Island is still a place of magic. Now known as the Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area, tours and camping opportunities await those who visit. Jay will discuss State and volunteer group efforts to save the remaining historic buildings and to keep the agrarian landscape of this National Register of Historic Places site open for public enjoyment.

SWAN ISLAND GENERAL INFORMATION

Swan Island, known for its abundant and often quite visible wildlife, is actually an abandoned 18th and 19th century town called Perkins Township, and has long been recognized for its varied and interesting history. There are five standing homes that date back to the 1700s. The wildlife management area, about 1,755 acres in size, is located in the Kennebec River between the towns of Richmond and Dresden. The Island’s public visitation season generally runs from May 15th through Labor Day (with limited access through the fall). There are ten Adirondack type shelters available for overnight use; picnic facilities for day use; modern bathroom facilities at campground; and drinking water.

If you wish to visit the Swan Island Wildlife Management Area, you must make reservations for the ferry and/or campground. You may access the island, for day use, via personal canoe or kayak without a reservation; admission fees may be deposited in iron rangers. All visitor fees are as follows: day use, 3 years and under – free; 4 years and older – $ 8.00. For overnight camping, 3 years and under – free; 4 years and older – $14.00. Please visit our website at www.maine.gov/swanisland for more information and details about the island; or like us on Facebook!

Swan Island, the Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area, is owned and maintained by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Its operation and maintenance are supported by your fees as well as revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and federal monies under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program.

“Know Before You Go” measure advances with unanimous support from workforce panel

 

Bill provides consumer-friendly data on college graduates’ earnings, employment rates 

AUGUSTA – Students and their families would have more information as they make higher education decisions under a bill that is advancing in the Legislature after winning the unanimous support of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future on Monday.

LD 1746, the “Know Before You Go” bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, would provide consumer-friendly information on the Internet about employment and earnings outcomes for graduates of Maine colleges and universities. The aggregate information would provide a window onto how graduates fare by major and institution at various time intervals after they complete their degrees.

“There’s plenty of information about the things going into a college education – the courses, the campus amenities and the extracurricular activities, just to name a few. But there’s virtually no information about educational output,” said Berry, House chair of the workforce committee. “Before making one of the biggest investments of their lives, students should have the answers to questions like, ‘How likely am I to find a job in my field?’ and ‘Will I make enough to support myself?’”

The bill has the support of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Jobs for the Future, an education and workforce development organization, the Legislature’s bipartisan Youth Caucus, the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy and the Maine Independent Colleges Association. The state Department of Education and Department of Labor also support the bill.

“This bill is a good first step towards reducing uncertainty and increasing access to a college education,” said Senator Linda Valentino of Saco, the Senate Chair of the committee.

The bill would also inform policymakers as they assess higher education needs and trends in the state’s job market.

Increasingly, states across the country are providing similar higher education outcomes data to the public.  For example, the nonprofit CollegeMeasures.org has created websites for a number of states, listing graduates’ average incomes and employment rates.

As amended, the bill would create a task force of 15 members to develop procedures around the maintenance and dissemination of the data, which is already held by the state Department of Labor and Department of Education. There is no fiscal note on the bill.

The bill goes next to the House floor.

Maine needs small business and innovation bond package

Listen on SoundCloud at link below:

Majority Leader Berry’s Democratic Weekly Radio Address: Time for Small Business and Innovation Investment for Maine

We have to face some hard truths about Maine’s economy. We are struggling to shake off the effects of the recession. Others are passing us by when it comes to recovery, but Maine does have a great thing going for it when it comes to possibilities for job creation.

I have the honor of co-chairing the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. This bipartisan panel has done some really amazing work to spur job creation and move our economy forward.

Just last week, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a set of bond investments created by our committee, which are targeted to help small businesses grow, and to boost high tech innovation.

Many of these are long overdue investments that support the little guy:  small but promising businesses from around the state, as well as our farmers, foresters, and fishermen.

Maine needs these investments now to address our lagging job creation.  For the last few years, we have neglected our small businesses and our innovation economy.

At the same time, we’ve only recovered about half the jobs we lost in the recession. New England as a whole, meanwhile, has recovered virtually all of them.

In putting together this bond plan, our workforce committee started with the belief that Mainers are some of the best workers on the planet. We listened to the public and asked questions. How can we best help our workers thrive in today’s global economy? How can we best help Maine’s small businesses grow and create jobs?

The proposal reflects the very best of the ideas we heard.  More importantly, it reflects Maine’s true, powerful potential — the economic leader Maine can become if we put our minds to it. All told, the proposal would invest $40 million in key engines of economic growth.

The biggest portion would recapitalize financing programs that help promising small business access capital. These programs have proven track records of helping Maine companies to achieve rapid growth and job creation.

Here’s just one of many examples we heard about. Artel, in Westbrook, told us how it used these flexible loan programs to make each of its big jumps in its development. They started out with two guys who each had borrowed one-thousand dollars from family members. Today, they make highly sophisticated instruments used by crime labs looking at DNA, hospitals evaluating patient tests and pharmaceutical firms doing quality control. The company now has an international presence and more than 60 employees.

The bond proposal also builds on areas where Maine already enjoys competitive advantages.

One part would improve the laboratory at the Cooperative Extension, helping them better assist farmers and foresters to combat disease and insect threats. The other elements would invest in key areas on a competitive basis. They aim to boost the state’s marine economy, to develop a world-class biometric research facility for advanced cancer treatments and related research, to increase biotech workforce training, and to advance cutting edge tissue regeneration research to improve human health.

This proposal is a great example of bipartisan cooperation that shows how much we can do when we come together.

We’re looking forward to seeing Governor LePage sign it and send it to voters for their approval. Even more than that, we’re looking forward to seeing Maine’s small businesses prosper and more Maine workers in good-paying  21st century jobs.

“Know Before You Go” measure advances with unanimous support from workforce panel

  Bill provides consumer-friendly data on college graduates’ earnings, employment rates  AUGUSTA – Students and their families would have more information as they make higher education decisions under a bill that is advancing in the Legislature after winning the unanimous support of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future on Monday. LDContinue Reading

“Know Before You Go” bill receives broad support at public hearing

Measure provides consumer-friendly higher ed data on graduates’ average earnings, employment rate and more February 10, 2014 AUGUSTA – A measure to provide students and their families with information that will help them make higher education decisions won broad support from education and business leaders during a public hearing Monday. The “Know Before You Go”Continue Reading

Supporting Maine Communities and Students

Dear Friends and Constituents: We are a month into session and already very busy. Preventing property tax hikes: One of our biggest priorities is to restore $40 million in revenue sharing to our towns. Last year, the governor proposed eliminating municipal revenue sharing. The Legislature was able to restore two-thirds of the cuts, but stillContinue Reading

Cable/Internet Committee Internet Survey

The Bowdoinham Cable/Internet Committee has designed a survey to get specific information about the current and expected needs of internet service here in Bowdoinham. The plan is to circulate the survey in as many ways as possible so that we may gather a comprehensive and accurate picture of the community’s needs and frustrations. So, youContinue Reading