For Immediate Release: 3/2/17
AUGUSTA – The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee held a joint public hearing on Wednesday on portions of Gov. Paul LePage’s budget proposal that would affect Maine’s economic development programs. Specific attention was paid to the lack of investment in research and development and the failure to fund programs that support entrepreneurs and innovators.
“New and growing industries in Maine, industries like aquaculture or forest bioproducts, won’t be able to succeed and create more Maine jobs unless we make targeted investments and support critical research and development,” said Speaker of the House Sara Gideon. “Our greatest natural resource is our people. Mainers are hard-working and resilient and our small businesses are the engine of our economy. However, this budget proposal strips support for the very programs that help companies grow from start-ups to the next successful Maine business.”
Gov. LePage’s budget proposal strips funding from programs that support small business development, entrepreneurship and innovation. The Applied Technology and Development Center (ATDC) would lose $180,000 in funding. The Centers are the “go-to” source of information, training, and resources where client firms get connected with Maine’s strong array of business support services, and networked with appropriate private sector resources. Those funds specifically help support:
- Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) – MCED runs an intensive 15-week training program, that has assisted 140+ small businesses. Removal of state funds would also affect MCED’s ability to draw down additional federal funds.
- Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center (MAIC) – MAIC sponsors and facilitates innovative research and development projects involving food, pharmaceuticals, and other products from sustainable aquatic systems.
- Target Technology Center at UMaine – Home of the UpStart Incubator, which provides coaching services and support to entrepreneurs in order to build competitive, market-oriented companies.
“I am highly concerned about the lack of support for innovation in some of our newest and most promising industries, specifically aquaculture” said Rep. Denise Tepler (D- Topsham), member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “The governor’s budget shortchanges promising new industries, severely limiting the growth of these businesses and the jobs they create. Democrats will support a budget that rewards hard work and grows a stronger economy, a budget that protects our most vulnerable, including seniors and children, and a budget that prevents unfair tax breaks for some, while our state as a whole lags behind.”