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Updated: January 8, 2024 Economic Outlook

2024 Forecast: Maine’s ‘readiness for anything’ has galvanized in recent years

Provided Photo Lee Umphrey, president and CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corp., cites Maine’s “readiness for anything,” which has increased in the wake of recent challenges.

Lee Umphrey, president and CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corp., says Mainers have always used Yankee ingenuity.

But it’s increased in recent years.

“Maine’s readiness for anything has increased tenfold,” he says. “This past year, we faced violent tragedy in Lewiston, increasing weather challenges caused by the climate crisis and remnants from pandemic-related business stress.”

Economic development depends on that resilience, but it also relies on partnerships between the federal government, state and nonprofits like Eastern Maine Development Corp., which is based in Bangor and focuses on Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Waldo counties.

“Having additional resources with a pulse on our region’s needs helped us leverage resources to make things better for businesses, communities, and workers. By establishing and further expanding this collaborative approach, we will grow the economy, increase cooperation, and together make our state a better place to work and live. This temporary influx of federal funds was targeted and aimed to establish systemic business practices to be sustainable,” he says.

He urges leaders to continue to look for new ways to work together in 2024.

“As a state, we get along on grit and resolve but we need to do more. Next year is the time to embrace opportunities and innovation,” he says, citing three necessary pillars:

  • First, affordable broadband for all is essential, Umphrey says.
  • Second, with the university and community college systems, “we need to focus on training people for the jobs of the future that provide services or produce goods that are environmentally friendly and keeps Maine’s natural beauty.”
  • Third, “we need to assist new Mainers in succeeding in the workplace and our communities.”

“Here in Maine,” Umphrey says, “we need to remember President Roosevelt saying during hard times. ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.’”

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