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November 12, 2018
From the Editor

Will the business outlook improve in Maine under Gov.-elect Janet Mills?

Gov. Paul LePage's impact on business will likely be debated for some time.

Setting that debate aside for now, it's going to be interesting what effect Gov.-elect Janet Mills will have on business.

Mills, a Democrat who frequently clashed with Republican LePage in her role as state attorney general, laid out a rudimentary outline in her campaign of what she'd do to feed the state's economy.

She advocated for small business accelerator programs and incentives. This is from her campaign:

  • Create the small business accelerator to serve as a one-stop shop for businesses and start-ups;
  • Launch the 'job growth loans' program to provide 18 months of no-interest loans for small businesses to finance adding a new employee;
  • Establish the 'welcome home' program to help former and future Mainers to bring their current job to Maine to work remotely and live here;
  • Provide the rural workplace grant to help communities convert a downtown building into a co-working space with high-speed broadband.

If we can read into that, it sounds like seed money that comes through state-funded programs should remain a key piece of potential funding for small businesses — whether the funding comes directly from the state through the state Department of Economic and Community Development or indirectly through sources like Maine Technology Institute, which relies on other funding sources as well.

More than money, though, Maine needs an advocate and an influencer, someone who can help help shake loose other lines of funding, whether from the federal government, foundations or other grant sources.

Maine needs an ambassador — someone who inspires the confidence of outside investors or who can go to the mat with other governors to recruit businesses of all sizes from other states.

Will Gov.-elect Mills be that person? Time will tell, but it's a fresh start and it's worth listening to her broader plan as she gets into the Blaine House.

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