Gov. Mills establishes committee to advise on Maine’s economic recovery

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:45pm

Governor Janet Mills announced May 6 she is convening an Economic Recovery Committee charged with developing recommendations to mitigate the damage to Maine’s economy caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to jumpstart a long-term economic recovery for Maine people, businesses, and organizations.

The 37 member Committee — co-chaired by Laurie Lachance, former Maine State Economist and President of Thomas College in Waterville, and Josh Broder, CEO of Tilson — includes representatives of small businesses, non-profits, financial institutions, unions, municipalities, tribal and immigrant communities, hospitality and tourism industries, and educational institutions as well as a bipartisan delegation of legislative designees.

“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,” said Gov. Mills. “Like all states, Maine will be impacted both in the short- and long-term. “While we work to protect public health and safely restart Maine’s economy, I am convening a committee of experts and stakeholders from various industries and with 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.”

The Economic Recovery Committee, which the Governor established by Executive Order, will gather input from experts and industry sector representatives on the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Maine’s economy and offer specific policy recommendations to mitigate those impacts, the release noted. 

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.

The Committee will not address public health matters, including the reopening timeframe; however, it will provide guidance on the importance of good public health as a precondition for good economic growth, a press release noted. 

The Committee will convene its first meeting as soon as practicable and deliver a preliminary report no later than July 15 and a final report by December 1.

The Committee may also form subcommittees at the discretion of the co-chairs. All meetings of the Committee and any subcommittees will be conducted virtually in a manner accessible to the public with advance online notice. To allow for public input, the Committee will create a portal to receive public comments.

The Committee may also call upon economists and other experts, including the Maine State Economist, to inform its members. The Committee may also continue to meet after delivering its final report if requested by the Governor. 

These 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.

The complete membership of the Economic Recovery Committee is as follows:

Chairs
Josh Broder, Co-Chair, CEO of Tilson
Laurie Lachance, Co-Chair, President of Thomas College

Legislators
Representative Joshua Morris, R-Turner
Representative Brian Hubbell, D-Bar Harbor
Senator Lisa Keim, R-Oxford
Senator Michael Carpenter, D-Aroostook      

Economic Development
Lee Umphrey, President & CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corporation
Betsy Biemann, CEO of Coastal Enterprises Inc

Business
Curtis Picard, President and CEO of Retail Association of Maine
Dana Connors, President of the Maine Chamber of Commerce
Meredith Strang Burgess, President and CEO of Burgess Advertising and Marketing
Ben Waxman, Co-Founder American Roots
Jessica Masse, Partner, Design Lab
Steve Schley, Board Chair, FOR Maine Initiative
Vaughan Woodruff, Owner of InSource Renewables
Jean Ginn Marvin, Owner of Nonantum Resort, Board Chair, Maine Community College Board of Trustees
Kevin Raye, Realtor and Former Senate President
Deanna Sherman, President and CEO of Dead River Company
Wick Johnson, President of Kennebec Technologies
Robert Dorko, Utilities & Recovery Manager at Sappi North America
Luke Holden, Co-Founder and CEO of Luke’s Lobster

Financial Institutions
Bob Montgomery-Rice, President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank
Sam May, Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union Board Chair
Larry Shaw, CEO of MMG Insurance
Tim Agnew, Masthead Venture Partners

Municipal, Immigrant and Tribal Community Representatives
Tae Chong, Councilor, City of Portland, and Social Enterprise & Workforce Development Manager for Catholic Charities Maine
Lincoln Jeffers, Economic Development Director for the City of Lewiston
Angela Okafor, Councilor, City of Bangor
Susan Hammond, Executive Director of Four Directions Development Corporation

Health Care
Bill Burke, Chair of the MaineHealth Board of Trustees and the Portland Sea Dogs 

Education
Jim Herbert, President of the University of New England
Rebecca Wyke, President of the University of Maine at Augusta
Joe Cassidy, President of Southern Maine Community College

Nonprofits
James Myall, Policy Analyst for the Maine Center for Economic Policy
Jennifer Hutchinson, Executive Director of the Maine Association of Nonprofits
Susan Corbett, Founder and Director of the National Digital Equity Center

Unions
Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO

Members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation are also invited to participate in an ex-officio capacity.