August 20, 2018
To the Editor

USM arts center is not the answer

I have been a reader of Mainebiz for several years and enjoy the publication a great deal. I have a startup business in Scarborough and commute between Manhattan for other income, to sustain this venture. I grew up in the Portland area and attended University of Southern Maine for two years before transferring to a more notable school in Boston.

The article about the new arts center at USM is troubling. The $50 million-plus dollar price tag is steep, but not as troubling as the focus, the arts, though that is my primary profession. Not long ago, both the CEOs of WEX and IDEXX were on record saying it is difficult to find qualified people in Maine to hire. It was also stated that a graduate school for business is sorely needed.

Since the biotech industry is rapidly expanding in Boston, and numerous Chinese big pharma companies are locating satellite offices there, another important focus for USM should be graduates for this field in addition to business.

USM is a highly important institution for southern Maine and it is grossly failing before our eyes. An arts center is not the answer. The future of Maine business, without strong academic institutions at the base or core, is significantly hampered. Boston is thriving because companies can pull the best interns and graduates from a few subway stops away.

I enjoy and love Maine and wish that I could live in Portland full-time, but business opportunities for me pale in comparison to other metropolitan areas such as Boston and New York. A refocused, rebuilt, expanded USM campus in Portland is crucial for Portland's future.

Thomas Harmon

MH Beverages, Scarborough


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