Radio Address: Johnson says: Dems made small business a top priority by supporting entrepreneurs and developing workforce training

Posted: October 10, 2014 | Front Page, Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, News Items, Senator Johnson, Weekly Radio Address

Maine small businesses are the driving force of our local economy. Our downtown shops, small restaurants, local offices and natural resource based businesses are owned by our friends, neighbors, and family members. Each and every one of them is helping to build our economy.


Good Morning, this is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville.

Sen. Chris Johnson recording the radio address

Sen. Chris Johnson recording the radio address

In Maine, we are proud of our creative entrepreneurs and vibrant small businesses.  I talk to and hear from small businesses all the time. Recently, I sat down with the owners of Treats in Wiscasset, Hodgdon Yachts in East Boothbay, the Pemaquid Oyster Company in Damariscotta, and Masters Machine in Round Pond, and learned about their challenges, and their history and their future plans.


Almost 90 percent of businesses in Maine employ fewer than twenty people. These are the people and the businesses that will propel Maine’s economy forward.


Recognizing the critical role small businesses play in our economy, in the 126th Legislature, Democrats made them a top priority. We focused on supporting local entrepreneurs and helping small businesses create good-paying jobs for Mainers.


We accomplished a lot.


One of our biggest accomplishments was the creation of a special Workforce Committee. The committee focused on addressing the skills gap in Maine. Closing the skills gap ensures that Maine workers have the skills that are in demand, and our small businesses have the workforce they need to grow.


The Workforce Committee also expanded the industry partnership programs. This model aligns worker training programs with one another and the needs of both workers and businesses.


Of course, higher education is a critical component of eliminating the skills gap. The Committee developed a new scholarship program for adult learners. Mainers who began college but were unable to finish, can access these funds to go back and earn their degree.


They also eased the process of transferring credits between Maine community colleges and universities.


Of course, for businesses to grow, they need capital, and we tackled this problem by producing a small business bond package. The bond will recapitalize two small business loan guarantee programs if it’s approved by voters in November.


We also funded the Seed Capital program. It provides tax credit for individuals who invest in Maine small businesses.


And finally, we passed a new law that enables entrepreneurs to raise money more easily from investors through crowd-funding, greatly expanding their ability to attract the investment money they require.


With increased access to capital, our small business community will be better poised to grow and create jobs for our Maine workers.


We have done much, but there is still much to be done to make Maine a more fertile environment for a stronger economy.


We need to do more research and development to keep Maine’s businesses on the cutting edge.  We need to improve our transportation infrastructure to make sure that Maine-made goods can get to their markets efficiently.  We need to do everything we can to connect local businesses to local customers, including our fishermen and farmers. And most of all we need to always be sure that the state government works effectively with entrepreneurs, workers and business owners of all sizes.


Thank you and have a great weekend.