Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future meets

Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2013 in Politics

Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future meets

photo by Andi Parkinson

by Andi Parkinson

AUGUSTA — On Monday, the new Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future held its first meeting in the Cross Building here.

Charles “Wick” Johnson of Kennebec Technologies spoke to the committee about the skills-gap issues he faces in running his business.

There was significant discussion and presentations about the current landscape of Maine’s economy, including workforce development, the skills gap, small business and economic engines such as downtowns and Main Street areas of Maine communities.

Presenters included:

· Charles Colgan, Muskie School for Public Service, USM

· Jim Clair, CEO, Good Health Systems; chair, Consensus Economic Forecasting Committee

· John Dorrer, Jobs for the Future

· Ed Cervone, president and CEO of Maine Development Foundation.

“It’s clear we have a lot of work to do and what we heard today is that we need to focus on the very issues that this committee is designed for,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, who also serves as the Senate chair for the workforce committee. “We need to develop the skill sets of our workers so they’re aligned with Maine’s businesses, strengthen our economic hubs, like our Main Streets and downtowns, and grow our small businesses.

During the presentation, Colgan noted that Maine has a “severe worker-availability problem on the immediate horizon and it will be with us for the next 20 years.” He added that Maine lags behind the rest of the nation in high-paying occupations requiring advanced education. He also noted that Maine’s “business problem” is related more to “growing small businesses into medium-sized businesses. “

“The committee got off to a strong start today with an excellent overview of our state’s economy that will inform our legislation to strengthen our workforce, downtowns, and small businesses,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, who serves as the House chair for the committee. “We’re confident that input from such experts and the public will help us develop effective measures to grow our economy and middle class.”

The joint select committee will work with experts and industry leaders to formulate a plan to improve Maine’s economy. Democrats said the plan would build on the bipartisan work done last session to streamline regulations.

The next scheduled meeting is Feb. 4. On Feb. 6, the committee will travel to Bangor to speak with local business leaders, educators, employers and workers to learn more about workforce development and skills-gap issues as they apply to the Bangor area.

The Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future is comprised of the following members:

Senate chair

Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, the Senate majority leader, is serving his third term in the Senate representing District 19 (Sagadahoc County). He is the cofounder of Goodall Landscaping, a small business now owned by his brother that employs nearly 30 people. While a selectman in his hometown of Richmond, he focused on revitalizing the downtown and creating jobs. He also served on the Economic Community Development Board, and currently serves on the Maine Economic Growth Council, a project of the Maine Development Foundation. The MEGC was established to develop a long-range economic plan for the state and to measure progress in achieving the plan’s benchmarks and goals via the annual release of the Measures of Growth report on the Maine economy.

House chair

Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, the House majority leader, is a fourth-term legislator who has served as ranking minority member of the Taxation Committee, assistant House majority leader, and a member of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. A former teacher, he is now vice president for international business development of Kennebec River Biosciences in Richmond.


  • Rep. Paul Bennett, R-Kennebunk, is serving his second term in the House. He received a B.S. in Accounting from Bentley University and is a member of the National Federation of Independent Business. He has been a small business owner for nearly 25 years. He serves on the Taxation Committee.

  • Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, is a third-term legislator who serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee. After completing his service in the Army, Gilbert gained management experience in supermarkets and as a job service manager at the Maine Department of Labor.

  • Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, is a first-term legislator serving on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. She is a small business owner who works with non-profit organizations, schools, and other small businesses to help them secure funding for vital projects.

  • Rep. Peter Johnson, R-Greenville, is serving his fourth term in the House. A retired colonel in the U.S. Army, he has worked as a consultant for Argon Engineering, a program manager for Lockheed-Martin, a business development manager for Raytheon Corp., and a program manager for Engineering Research Associates. He holds an MBA from the University of Maine. He is also a member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

  • Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, is serving his second term in the Senate representing District 24 (Augusta, China, Oakland, Sidney, and Vassalboro). Katz is the assistant Senate minority leader, and also serves on the Government Oversight Committee. He is the former mayor of Augusta, and was the chair of Augusta Development Corp.

  • Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, is serving his second term in the Senate representing District 28 (Hancock County). He also serves on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, and is the owner of the Union River Lobster Pot restaurant in Ellsworth. Langley spent more than 27 years teaching culinary arts at Hancock County Technical Center, where he emphasized workforce development through industry and education partnerships.

  • Rep. Joyce Maker, R-Calais, is serving her second term in the House. She is a retired college administrator and financial aid director, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and the Maine Municipal Association Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

  • Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, D-Sanford, is a first-term legislator serving on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee. She brings her experience as vice chair of the Sanford Economic Growth Council and as a local elected official to the committee.

  • Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig, D-Cape Elizabeth, is a second-term legislator serving on the Judiciary Committee. Her professional background includes work in tourism marketing, project and event management, online publishing, and ballet instruction.

  • Rep. Terry Morrison, D-South Portland, is a third-term legislator serving on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. His small business experience includes running The Works Café in Portland and J.P. Thornton’s in South Portland, and serving as general manager of the Inn at St. John in Portland.

  • Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, is serving his second term in the House. He is the owner of Ricker Hill Orchards, an eighth generation family farm that is one of the largest apple farms in New England. He also manages about 2000 acres of forest land, and owns Northland TrueValue and Northland Holder Inc. He serves on the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee.

  • Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, is serving her first term in the Senate representing District 5 (Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Dayton, Buxton, and part of Biddeford). She also serves on the Transportation Committee and is the Senate chair of the Judiciary Committee. Prior to her election to the Senate, Valentino served four terms in the Maine House where she sponsored legislation to provide seed capital for businesses and served on the Joint Select Committee of Business Regulatory Fairness and Reform.

  • Sen. Richard Woodbury, U-Yarmouth, is serving his second term in the Senate representing District 11 (Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gray, Long Island, North Yarmouth, and Yarmouth). Woodbury is an economist and the only Independent in the Maine Senate. His economics work deals with pension plans, health and disability, population aging, and tax policy. He also serves on the Insurance and Financial Services and Marine Resources committees, and he is a member of the GrowSmart Maine and Envision Maine advisory boards.

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