Posted: April 28, 2015 | Featured Post, Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development, Senator Gerzofsky

AUGUSTA – A bill to create a capital investment to attract major business development and create quality paying jobs in Maine was presented before the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.

“We all want quality jobs here in Maine – for Maine people,” said Senator Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick, sponsor of the bill. “I know this is what people want, and this bill will help get us there.”

Under Gerzofsky’s proposal, the bill, LD 1132 – An Act to Invest in Maine Companies, would give the state the authority to provide investment loans or bond funding to major business development projects that have a projected cost of at least $50 million or are projected to result in the creation or retention of at least 250 full-time employment positions that pay at least 125% of the state annual average weekly wage.

Some committee members questioned if the bill would create a similar situation to the New Markets Tax Credit, in which the state is paying $16 million to the defunct mill owners, Cate Street, for the shuttered mill in East Millinocket. Senator Gerzofsky assured the committee that the bill would only use investment funds, such as retirement and other private investments to finance projects.

Sen. Gerzofsky has been instrumental in supporting initiatives to attract businesses to Maine and create quality jobs over the years. During his testimony, he cited the loss of the Brunswick Naval Air Station as a major gap in the region’s economy that he represents.

“Great jobs were lost, reliable work was lost, and the ripple effect was felt throughout the entire midcoast region,” said Sen. Gerzofsky. “Fortunately, through the great work of many people, including the Legislature, we have seen significant progress at the former naval air station – now called Brunswick Landing.”

Brunswick Landing has been nationally recognized for its successful base redevelopment projects. To date, there are over 70 businesses, 8 of which are totally new to Maine on the campus; with over $150 million in private sector investment and 600 quality jobs created. Among the many businesses, the former navy base also has a community college which partners with many of the companies on site, an airport, and the recently launched business incubator project to help business startups.

“These companies have added significant new economic vitality to the closed navy base and the state and we need to support their continued growth,” said Sen. Gerzofsky. “Attracting businesses to Maine is key to our ability to grow our state’s economy and provide Maine people with good paying jobs into the future.”

Officials from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), and Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) spoke in support of the bill.

The committee will hold a work session on the bill in the coming weeks.