AUGUSTA, Maine — Governor Janet Mills announced Wednesday that she is convening an economic recovery committee charged with developing recommendations to mitigate the damage to Maine’s economy caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to jumpstart a long-term economic recovery for Maine people, businesses, and organizations.
The 37 member committee, co-chaired by Laurie Lachance, former Maine State Economist and President of Thomas College, and Josh Broder, CEO of Tilson, includes representatives of small businesses, non-profits, financial institutions, unions, municipalities, tribal and immigrant communities, hospitality and tourism industries, and educational institutions as well as a bipartisan delegation of legislative designees.
“This pandemic is wreaking havoc on our national economy and dealing heavy losses to businesses of all sizes and millions of people who find themselves newly unemployed. Like all states, Maine will be impacted both in the short- and long-term,” Mills said. “While we work to protect public health and safely restart Maine’s economy, I am convening a committee of experts and stakeholders from various industries and with vast experiences to develop recommendations that can guide our economic recovery. Together, drawing on the hard work and resilience of Maine people, we will rebuild and strengthen our economy and rise from this unprecedented challenge to be a stronger state.”
The economic recovery committee, which the governor established by executive order Wednesday, will gather input from experts and industry sector representatives on the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Maine’s economy and offer specific policy recommendations to mitigate those impacts. Those recommendations should address essential issues such as:
- Strengthening Maine’s key industries and small businesses;
- Strengthening workforce development;
- Improving opportunities for lower-and middle-income families;
- Expanding economic opportunities for rural communities; and
- Attracting new investments and innovations in key sectors such as business, communication, health care, recreation and education.
The committee will not address public health matters, including the reopening timeframe; however, it will provide guidance on the importance of good public health as a precondition for good economic growth.
The governor said the committee will convene its first meeting as soon as practicable and deliver a preliminary report no later than July 15, 2020 and a final report by December 1, 2020. The committee may also form subcommittees at the discretion of the co-chairs. All meetings of the committee and any subcommittees will be conducted virtually in a manner accessible to the public with advance online notice. To allow for public input, the committee will create a portal to receive public comments.
The committee may also call upon economists and other experts, including the Maine State Economist, to inform its members. The committee may also continue to meet after delivering its final report if requested by Mills.
These recommendations serve in part as a bridge between the economic emergency caused by the pandemic and the restart of the Maine’s 10-year economic development strategy released last year.
“I’m honored to serve Maine in helping to plan for the future,” Josh Broder, Co-Chair of the Committee and CEO of Tilson, said. “This emergency has devastated families and our economy in unprecedented ways. We will have to be strategic in our investments, harness all of the diverse capacity in state, and be competitive in our approach to stimulus.”
A native of Cumberland, Josh Broder serves as CEO of Tilson, a leading information infrastructure development firm which under his leadership has grown from less than 10 employees to more than 500. Prior to joining Tilson, Josh served as an Army Signal Office on missions in Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia where he was awarded a bronze star for his service.
“In this time when it feels like there is little we can do as individuals, I am deeply honored to work closely with such an experienced and passionate group of leaders to use our collective wisdom and ideas to help move Maine past this extremely disruptive period,” Laurie Lachance, Co-Chair of the Committee and President of Thomas College, said. “As we have seen so many times in our history, with focus and hard work, Maine can and will emerge stronger and will move towards the vision we share of a more prosperous economy.”
A native of Dover-Foxcroft, Laurie Lachance is Thomas College’s 5th President and the first female and alumna to lead the College in its 126-year history. From 2004-2012, Laurie served as President and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation. Prior to MDF, Laurie served three governors as the Maine State Economist.