Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

May 7, 2020

Committee to look at easing long-term COVID-19 economic impact on Maine

a headshot of a woman and one of a man Courtesy / Office of Gov. Janet Mills Laurie Lachance, president of Thomas College, and Josh Broder, CEO of Tilson, are the chairs of the state's new Economic Recovery Committee.
The Economic Recovery Committe has 37 members. Who is on it?
More Information

Gov. Janet Mills announced Wednesday that she is convening an Economic Recovery Committee, with members drawn from across Maine industries, that will develop recommendations to mitigate the  economic damage COVID-19 is causing the state's economy.

The committee is chaired by Laurie Lachance, former Maine state economist and president of Thomas College, and Josh Broder, CEO of Tilson. It includes representatives of businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, unions, municipalities, tribal and immigrant communities, hospitality and tourism industries and educational institutions, as well as two Republican and two Democrat state legislators.

The 37-member committee will begin meeting immediately, Mills said Wednesday, and is expected to have a prelimary report by July 15, and a final report by Dec. 1.

“This pandemic is wreaking havoc on our national economy and dealing heavy losses to businesses of all sizes and millions of people who find themselves newly unemployed," Mills said. "Like all states, Maine will be impacted both in the short- and long-term."

The committee will not address public health matters, including the time frame to reopen the state's businesses. "However, it will provide guidance on the importance of good public health as a precondition for good economic growth," Mills said.

The reopening plan, released last week, continues to be criticized by some business owners and industries as not opening the economy up fast enough, causing further harm. Much of the criticism of Wednesday's announcement, made during the state's daily COVID-19 briefing, as well as questions from the media after the announcement, focused on the reopening, rather than the committee's role.

Mills said the plan, as presented last week, is flexible and her office, as well well as the Department of Economic and Community Development, is working with representatives of various business sectors on how business can best reopen safely.

"It's a public health issue and an economics issue, and we're trying to meld those two realities every day, every hour," she said. She said there may be more news "within two days."

Her office announced late this morning she will have a "major announcement" early this afternoon.

Mitigating the impact

The committee will offer specific policy recommendations to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy. Those recommendations should address essential issues such as:

  • Strengthening Maine’s key industries and small businesses;
  • Strengthening workforce development;
  • Improving opportunities for lower-and middle-income families;
  • Expanding economic opportunities for rural communities; and
  • Attracting new investments and innovations in key sectors such as business, communication, health care, recreation and education.

Mills said that as the state works to protect public health and safely restart the state's economy, the committee will use its "vast experiences to develop recommendations that can guide our economic recovery."

"Together, drawing on the hard work and resilience of Maine people, we will rebuild and strengthen our economy and rise from this unprecedented challenge to be a stronger state," she said.

Broder said he's "honored to serve Maine in helping to plan for the future."

“This emergency has devastated families and our economy in unprecedented ways," he said in a news release from Mills' office. "We will have to be strategic in our investments, harness all of the diverse capacity in state, and be competitive in our approach to stimulus.”

Lachance said that it feels like there is little people can do as individuals. "I am deeply honored to work closely with such an experienced and passionate group of leaders to use our collective wisdom and ideas to help move Maine past this extremely disruptive period,” she said in the release. “As we have seen so many times in our history, with focus and hard work, Maine can and will emerge stronger and will move towards the vision we share of a more prosperous economy.”

Reaction by Demi Kouzounas, chair of the Maine Republican Party, said in an email statement that the state's response so far has been muddled. "Then we learned there was a new committee being formed that would issue a final report by December 1 — but Maine’s economy is in crisis right now," the statement said.

Committee structure

The committee may form subcommittees, and all committee and subcommittee meetings will be conducted virtually in a manner accessible to the public with advance online notice. A portal for public input will also be created to receive public comments.

The committee may also call upon economists and other experts, including the Maine state economist, to inform its members. and it may continue to meet after delivering its final report, if requested by Mills.

The recommendations will serve in part as a bridge between the economic emergency caused by the pandemic to the restart of the state’s 10-year economic development strategy released last year, she said.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


May 8, 2020

The lack of planning by State government for a smooth economic reopening has devastated Maine small businesses, and is shameful. The best example of this are the Maine summer camps for children that bring millions of dollars into the State, but have been forced to shut their doors for this summer 2020 due to restrictions and no clear plan for the near future. Hundreds of Mainers that work in the summer camp industry are now out of work for this year, and many are likely to shut their doors for good due to the lack of foresight by the Governor and her staff. Considering the very low infection rates in Maine, and the natural social distancing provided by Maine's low population density in MOST parts of the State, allowing and encouraging industries like summer camp to plan for reopening would have been statistically defensible. Many other small businesses could have been given guidance on reopening as well, allowing them to plan for a safe summer season of work and a return to near normal operations. It is such a disappointment to see what is happening in Maine, where the COVID-19 situation is nothing like New York City, but seems to be treated the same way. One size does not fit all, but the State leadership seems unwilling to lead us forward.

May 7, 2020

Having voices from across the spectrum is great! Long term plans are great. But why weren't these people brought in to advise Governor Mills on the re-opening of the economy now? Especially for small businesses, immediate answers are needed.

Order a PDF