What if Maine actually met its biggest challenges head on? Here’s a chance to have a say

In her widely read 2006 report, “In Search of Silver Buckshot,” Laurie Lachance, now president of Thomas College, wrote, “Maine has failed to articulate and adopt a clear, shared, long-term vision, and to use that vision to guide all policy development.”

Not much has changed since 2006.

So we’re asking you to get the conversation going about Maine’s economic future. Take our survey by clicking here, and let us know what economic initiatives are most important to you.

A Texas man was airlifted off Katahdin Mountain on July 1, 2013, after a large rock fell on him, injuring his upper and lower body. Photo courtesy of Baxter State Park

A Texas man was airlifted off Katahdin Mountain on July 1, 2013, after a large rock fell on him, injuring his upper and lower body. Photo courtesy of Baxter State Park

Without a vision for how to capitalize on what makes Maine great and a strategy for how to improve residents’ quality of life, economic development efforts become disjointed. Worthwhile initiatives get under-funded, while less effective initiatives take up people’s time and energy.

Economic transformations require setting a course — deciding what to do and what not to do — and staying with it.

Why hasn’t Maine pursued a long-term strategy? Perhaps it’s because state leaders haven’t continued demanding it. Perhaps the momentum and funding is lost with each election cycle. Maybe it seems too daunting.

Either way, the need is immense.

So we wondered how to get the conversation going. After all, the state has had hundreds of different proposals for dealing with various economic issues over time. What if we pulled them out and looked at the common themes?

It’s surprising (or perhaps not that surprising) how experts have been calling for the same things over and over: Lower energy costs, lower taxes, invest more in research and development, increase academic achievement in K-12. The list goes on.

What if, instead of piecemeal approaches, Maine set out to meet these significant challenges by making systematic and deliberate changes?

Won’t happen, you say?

Given the precedent, you may be right.

But people pursue formidable challenges every day — when they believe in their worth. Defining a vision for Maine’s future must be one of those worthwhile endeavors.

So please take our survey.

The 20 economic initiatives in the survey have been culled from dozens of separate statewide, regional and legislative proposals put forward throughout the years. Some have been implemented in part but could be expanded. Others have remained ideas only.

Once the public completes this survey, we will send the top 10 or so ideas to grow Maine’s economy to the experts — people who think about these issues every day.

They will also rate them, and we’ll whittle down the top 10 ideas to about five.

From there, we’ll dig in and look at what it would take to make those five ideas reality.

Please help us get the conversation started.

 

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