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Maine business leaders outline goals, priorities for Gov. Mills and lawmakers

This is the eighth survey conducted among Maine business owners and the third done ahead of a gubernatorial election.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine business leaders in Augusta announced Thursday the latest Making Maine Work report, a survey conducted with more than 500 business owners throughout the state of Maine.

The survey has been conducted eight times since the great recession, and organizers say it's designed to unify voices of employers throughout Maine as legislators discuss ways to disperse funds.

“[We are] being persistent, data-driven, non-partisan, and asking these candidates not only embrace this report but the 10-year plan,” President and CEO of Maine Development Foundation Yellow Light Breen said. “We will get nowhere if we yo-yo from direction to direction.”

Breen is talking about the number one goal sought out by the business group, which is furthering the implementation of the Maine Economic Development Strategy 2020-2029, originally approved by Governor Janet Mills.

The survey compiled the data taken from the businesses and outlined 15 goals that legislators should consider going into the next lawmaking session.

Mainly, the goals are to expand Maine’s workforce, prioritize innovation, improve access to healthcare, create an energy strategy and investment plan and expand housing stock.

On top of the goals, data was also published showing the top five issues the 500 businesses saw as a priority.

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46% of respondents said they see access to entry level workers and the cost of energy as a top issue while 44% of respondents rated access to skilled, technical workers and affordable housing as priorities.

President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce Dana Connors said it’s due to emphasis on skilled workers in previous years, that heightened the need for new, entry-level workers.

“The entry level workers, the bodies, that’s what moved to the top, that’s what is kind of strangling with restaurants having reduced hours — people are begging for workers,” Connors said.

Regarding energy costs, Maine Development Foundation CEO and President Yellow Light Breen said innovation is needed to bring down the cost.

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“How do we balance that with the concerns of viability, competitiveness and affordability, manufacturing is on the resurgence, and it can be on the resurgence here in Maine," Breen said. "We need a comprehensive take on energy."

This is also the third survey of its kind done ahead of a governor’s race.

The group hopes this data will guide the legislative priorities for the candidate who comes to the capitol after this November.

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