Processing Your Payment

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

November 25, 2020

Economic Recovery Committee says Maine needs more federal stimulus to rebuild

two head and shoulders photos, one a smiling woman in maroon jacket and flowered scarf and the other a smiling man in a blue shirt that says tilson on it Courtesy / Office of Gov. Janet Mills Thomas College President Laurie Lachance and Tilson CEO Josh Broder are chairs of the state's Economic Recovery Committee, which issued its final report this week.

The state's Economic Recovery Committee, convened by Gov. Janet Mills in May, has come up with strategies for Maine to rebound financially, but stressed the federal government has to help immediately or the plan won't work.

The committee Tuesday released its final report, outlining eight strategies needed for the state to strengthen its economy after the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 38-member committee is chaired by Josh Broder, CEO of Tilson, and Laurie Lachance, president of Thomas College.

While the committee's charge was to find long-term solutions that align with the state's 10-year economic plan released a year ago, the group said that in the near term, only more action by the U.S. government will help sustain the economy, particularly in the hard-hit tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.

"This new report comes at a time when the virus is spreading like wildfire, making a strong public health infrastructure critical to social stability and an economic recovery," the report said. "With the virus out of control, businesses, nonprofits and cultural institutions will struggle to survive. Without federal stimulus to support businesses and nonprofits, expand benefits for unemployed workers, and provide relief funds for the state, our bridge to the future will stop at a pier."

Everyone from businesses to families will face "impossible decisions," the report said. "The ERC urgently calls on Congress, the current and incoming administrations to pass a new forward-looking stimulus package without delay. This was needed in July, and with the virus flaring out of control, it is an absolute imperative now."

Maine's economic recovery

Lachance said the strategies "represent our committee’s dedication to delivering bold and achievable steps for Maine’s economy to recover from the disruption caused by COVID-19."

Broder said that the committee members' willingness to build consensus around big ideas, and focus attention among so many urgent needs, created core recommendations that "are long-term in nature and should be built on the foundation of controlling the pandemic first, as Maine’s economic recovery depends on strong public health.”

The goals behind the recommendations are:

  • Bolster innovation and entrepreneurship to grow new industries and accelerate transformation in existing ones;
  • Enhance workforce development to retain workers displaced by the pandemic; and
  • Leverage Maine’s desirability as a safe place to relocate amid COVID-19 into a consistent program to attract diverse new people.

Achieving the goals requires significant investment and innovation in early childhood care and education, the availability of broadband access and digital devices across the state, and policies that address unaffordable and inaccessible housing options, especially around high-demand employment markets, the report said.

The committee also addressed systemic inequity. The report said the pandemic’s disproportionate impact across age, income geographic and racial lines in Maine "demands a significant commitment to address long-standing structural inequity, which will in turn have a positive economic impact on the state."

Greater attention to diversity will contribute more to the economy, strengthen the workforce and build new markets, said Tae Chong, a member of Portland City Council who chaired the ERC’s subcommittee on diversity, equity and inclusion. "We need people of color in Maine to help grow our economy, so that all of Maine succeed and prosper," Chong said. 

The investment needed is "more than what's available" and "Maine leaders will be balancing priorities for years to come." As a consequence, the report doesn't offer funding solutions for ever recommendation, but only ones where the committee felt most confident.

Roadmap to recovery

The recommendations include the following.

Innovation: Advance industry-led, public-private initiatives that grow key innovation sectors; invest $100 million annually in commercially promising research and development; reinvigorate the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board with diverse entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship: Cultivate an entrepreneurship support ecosystem; make Maine more welcoming of immigrants and supportive of the success of entrepreneurs of color, Native Americans, and women, and attractive to remote workers.

Talent development: Prioritize accessible and affordable education and training options for working adults; invest in higher education programs and increase degree attainment; prepare workers for innovative and high‐demand sectors; expand internship opportunities linked to higher education; restore immigrant rights to access public benefits and the workforce.

Talent attraction: Coordinate and implement a statewide rebranding effort that welcomes diverse groups with respect to race, ethnicity, and other dimensions of human difference.

Internet access: Convene public, private and philanthropic stakeholders to map, prioritize and complete program design for universal broadband; advance digital equity and inclusion by increasing access to broadband, computers, mobile devices, and expanded digital literacy training for historically underserved individuals and communities. 

Early care and education supports: Pursue comprehensive reform of Maine’s fragmented public-private early care and education systems to increase access and affordability; build a skilled early childhood education workforce to prepare children for lifelong academic and career success.

Housing: Create and preserve more affordable, efficient and high-density housing through bonding, zoning, and land use regulation; provide housing stability for Maine’s workforce.

Address structural inequities: Perform a comprehensive diversity, equity and Inclusion assessment of Maine; develop a 10-year economic strategy for DEI; hire senior-level champions to promote DEI in state government. 

"I'm grateful for the energy and diligence with which the entire committee approached this important work, particularly given the difficulties presented by the pandemic,” Mills said in the news release.

“These recommendations give us a strong roadmap to move our economy forward, and I strongly echo the committee’s call for added federal stimulus now, which will help sustain Maine people through these challenging times, allow us to continue fighting the pandemic head-on, and achieve our economic recovery.”

The committee’s first report, in July, offered short-term recommendations for allocations of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for Maine schools, child care providers, rental assistance, broadband internet access to students, and the creation of the Maine Economic Recovery Grant program, which has distributed $158.6 million to 3,551 Maine businesses and nonprofits.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


November 26, 2020

Wait! This all sounds too familiar? They have opportunities for growth but many have political roadblocks between the Governor and the Entrepreneurs. In desperate times, you can't stay with the Status Quo approach to solving problems. These same people are the ones who have been promising growth for decades. Same old Same old. The problem is that Maine has no idea how to do things differently. They ran out of ideas long ago. And the fight to the death to block major projects - NECEC is just one example where the status quo has scared people into opposition of a great idea for a Maine company to train and employ Maine people. Why? Because the solar and wind energy lose leverage.
To the state's Economic Recovery Committee I say B.S. - the opportunities exist. The funding exists. But the State doesn't need to control everything. Let the free market and intelligent entrepreneurs have a fair shot.

Order a PDF