Two bills focus on economic development and job creation
AUGUSTA – As part of a larger plan by the Senate Democrats to bolster Maine’s economy, Senator Barry Hobbins (D – York County) introduced two key pieces of legislation before the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee on Thursday.
Both bills focus on economic development, but in different sectors. LD 1665 would convene a task force to expand the exports of Maine’s products and services; and LD 1675 would establish a task force to support the development of unoccupied mills.
“In talking with people and businesses around the state, it is clear that improving our economic climate is a top priority,” said Hobbins. “These two bills start the conversation, create a course for action, and ultimately bring home some positive results for the people and businesses of Maine.”
Hobbins noted the importance of expanding Maine’s export market as a way to grow the state’s economy, generate greater trade opportunities for businesses, and create jobs. LD 1665 would convene a task force of stakeholders to explore options for simplifying Maine’s exporting process and determining the most effective means to increase the exports of Maine products and services.
“At a time when the weakened economy has cost the state jobs and businesses, it is important to pursue a golden opportunity to help reverse this trend,” said Hobbins in reference to his bill.
“I have sponsored this bill because the export of goods and services is one of the most significant opportunities for Maine businesses, the growth of the Maine economy, and the creation of jobs.”
In 2010, nearly half of all U.S. business profits came from exports. For Maine, the state exported $3.2 billion worth of goods, which accounted for 6.1% of the state’s gross domestic product.
According to the United States Census, 2,000 Maine companies export products abroad. The United States Department of Commerce indicates that 82% of Maine exporters are small and medium enterprises (less than 500 employees). Out of 40,304 Maine businesses with employees, these 2,000 companies represent 5% of the firms that export.
“This data points out that we still have an untapped source for growing Maine businesses through exporting goods and services,” said Hobbins. “LD 1665 would create a game plan to capture this great opportunity.”
In his other bill, Senator Hobbins seeks to address obstacles that hinder the development of mills; find out what other states have successfully done in redeveloping mills; and suggest measures and costs involved in overcoming these obstacles.
“Maine has a significant economic asset in our unoccupied mills around the state,” said Hobbins. “Unfortunately, some of the mills have become more of a liability than an asset. This bill would look to turn that around and create local opportunities.”
Following the public hearing, a committee work session will be held in the coming weeks.
Barry Hobbins is Senator for District 5 and a practicing attorney in Saco. He represents the communities of Buxton, Dayton, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and part of Biddeford. Senator Hobbins is the Senate Democratic Leader.