Democratic Radio Address: Promoting Public-Private Partnership Ensures State's Economic Recovery
Good Morning. This is State Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond.
Earlier this week, the legislature overwhelmingly approved a plan redrawing the state’s two Congressional districts. As lead negotiator for the Democrats, I can tell you that consensus for this plan came after months of negotiations and eventually compromise. In the end, the legislature put aside partisanship and came up with a plan that is in the best interest of Maine.
Many argued that the line between the districts is just an arbitrary one or one designed for partisan, political purposes. Often though, what gets lost in the debate is the acknowledgment that our congressional delegation, regardless of political party, builds relationships with communities and businesses in their districts that are important to the local economy—and to the state.
These relationships help our economy by connecting business owners and entrepreneurs to financial capital to help them expand and hire more people; they help employers cut through regulations; and, perhaps most importantly, these relationships help shine light on Maine’s work product and great craftsmanship. Because of their connection to their districts, our congressional leaders can also strengthen the position of companies like Bath Iron Works while in Washington. It can’t be ignored that our congressional delegation—much like our state legislators—play an important role in our economy.
The biggest and broadest challenge facing our state—and our nation—is getting people back to work and earning a livable wage that will allow individuals and families to thrive and prosper.
Unfortunately, economic insecurity has overwhelmed many Maine families. Too often, families sit around the kitchen table wondering how to plan for the future, pay the mortgage, and put food on the table for their children. Many of these families are also small business owners worrying about their employees.
It is clear that there is no quick fix. But there are multiple ways for lawmakers to play a role in jump-starting our economy—and prepare us for when the economy rebounds. One way includes lawmakers and government leaders working together with the private sector to grow our economy.
As lawmakers, we must prioritize our investments and make good, sound policy decisions that are targeted toward areas that have a proven track record of creating jobs and attracting more economic development. Unfortunately, lawmakers often overlook small, micro-businesses, especially those with less than five employees, and their contribution to our state’s economy.
In fact, during the last recession nearly ten years ago, micro-business employment grewalmost ten percent, while large companies fell by two percent. Micro-enterprises helped lead our country out of that recession and it can help Maine today.
Lawmakers must target efforts towards small business, especially those located on Main Street. We know that it makes good sense to invest in small businesses and entrepreneurs—because it is they who energize our economy.
While some Main Streets may not be bustling as they once were, they still remain the pulse of our communities, home of small business, and a great place to focus many of our efforts for job creation and economic development. The return on investment is great: each dollar spent, yields $25 in reinvestment.
In my district, Bath is a terrific example. With the help of the Downtown Center, a state supported program, city and local leaders worked together to market the city, attract investment, and support each other’s business. This program helped Bath’s “Main Street,” known locally as “Front Street,” be recognized in 2009 as one of the top ten Great Streets in America.
Another example is Biddeford’s thriving mill district and reviving Main Street. As part of a $1.5 million statewide bond package approved by voters, the city received $350,000 in grant monies to leverage and spur economic development. And, most recently, a $2 million mixed–use project on Main Street utilized historic tax credits, along with private investment, to get its project off the ground.
These are success stories partially because of sound policy which resulted in a valuable public-private investment. Without the commitment from lawmakers and a vision for viable downtowns and small businesses, these projects would not have received a jump-start. We must learn from these examples.
In looking ahead, lawmakers must enact policies that promote small business, downtowns, and local investments. These financial and policy investments provide a tried and true return and create jobs. By promoting and encouraging the public-private partnership on the local level, it ensures that we are all part of the state’s economic recovery.
This is State Senator Seth Goodall. Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.