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Maine needs new workers, and not just remote ones

Experts say while there is room for remote workers employed by out-of-state companies, there are countless Maine employers that need workers right now.

PORTLAND, Maine — New data suggests a record number of people have been interested in moving to Maine during the pandemic.

Based on an analysis of its 2020 data, Atlas Van Lines, a moving company, says 62.4% of its Maine moves were people coming into the state. That percentage is higher than in every state besides Idaho and North Carolina.

Well, now that Maine has brought in new residents, presumably many of whom are working from home, will they stay as offices begin to reopen?

It's an important question as experts project Maine's workforce needs to grow by about 75,000 people over the next 10 years in order to sustain its economy.

Two of Maine's newest workers are Cy and Laura Bennet. Laura is originally from Cincinnati and Cy is from Indianapolis.

The couple had dreamed of moving to Maine for some time. 

"We just love it out here, honestly," says Laura. "We came out here for vacations a few different times over the years, and we have a friend that lives up on the coast near Castine. It’s just gorgeous and we had the opportunity to come so we decided to take it."

Cy echoes the memory, saying, "Every time we came through Portland, we sort of stayed a little longer and tried eating at new restaurants and did more stuff and figured that we can make the jump." 

In 2020, the two "made the jump," making their favorite vacation destination into their home.  

"We really felt we could see ourselves here because the city felt dense we felt like things were going on and there was opportunity to do things and to plug in and be close to these remote and beautiful places," says Cy. 

What allowed the couple to ultimately make the leap was – of all things – the pandemic and the shift to working remotely. 

"We were able to sort of retain income, and make the move and then figure things out once we got here," says Cy. Once settled, the couple left behind their jobs in Indianapolis for ones here in Maine.

Cy is a graphic designer for the Portland Public Library. Laura is working for Maine Health.

Cy says, "Having the opportunity to be able to work, but not be attached to any specific place, allowed us to get here, to meet people, to have a Maine address when you apply for a job instead of an Indianapolis one." 

Part of what pushed the couple to relocate was an event hosted by Live + Work in Maine, a non-profit in the Maine employment sphere. It is where Laura made connections that ultimately led to her job at Maine Health. 

Live + Work in Maine Director of Engagement Katie Shorey says, "We think Maine has a great case for why you cannot only have an amazing quality of life but the career you want too." 

Shorey and her organization hope more new Mainers who are now working remotely will follow the Bennett's lead and find full-time jobs here. 

"In order for the state to continue to grow and have the economy of scale that we need to thrive and continue to the future we need these individuals to work at Maine employers," says Shorey. 

According to its website, Live + Work in Maine is a not-for-profit initiative designed to increase awareness about the great career opportunities that exist in Maine, and promote the world-class quality of life Mainers enjoy. "Our mission is to show the world that in Maine, you can have it all when it comes to quality of life AND quality of career." 

That said, for those people who came to Maine during the pandemic, working remotely for an out-of-state company, there are opportunities to be found through Live + Work in Maine. 

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