PORTLAND – This week the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future received the President’s Award from the Maine Development Foundation, for their comprehensive and innovative approach to workforce development, innovation and business growth in Maine. The Committee is led by Representative and House Majority Leader Seth Berry and Senator Linda Valentino.
At the start of the 126th Legislature, Democratic legislative leaders pledged to make economic growth and job creation a top priority. With the creation of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, they delivered on this promise. Today’s recognition by the Maine Development Foundation demonstrates the continued success and full realization of this vision.
LD 90, written by the committee, garnered broad support from all sectors: Maine Community College President John Fitzsimmons, University of Maine Chancellor James Page, former President of the Maine Development Foundation Ed Cervone, Tim Walton from Cianbro and other business, labor and community leaders from across Maine.
“Bipartisanship at the State House begins with listening. We came together with a common goal, listened and learned together, and crafted our legislation using the best and most impactful proposals,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the co-chair of the committee. “The outcomes will make a big difference both for Maine’s workforce and economy. It shows how much we can accomplish by working together.”
The Workforce Committee sought to address the “skills gap” in Maine, to ensure that Maine people have the skills that businesses need in today’s economy. Members met with workforce experts, economists, and business leaders over the past year and formulated solutions to lay a foundation for a stronger economic future in Maine.
“The Workforce Committee is a shining example of what can happen when lawmakers from both sides of the aisle work together,” said Senator Linda Valentino, of Saco, Senate Chair of the Committee. “I am proud of the work we have done to strengthen Maine’s workforce and economic future.” As Senate Chair for a year, Valentino also thanked Berry, her co-chair, for having served as the Committee’s “quarterback” for both years.
Some of the committees initiatives include a needs-based scholarship for adult learners, increased access to community colleges in rural areas, a college credit transfer agreement, an incumbent workers program, and an industry partnerships program to align universities and businesses.
In its second year, the committee drafted five of the six bond investments proposed on this November’s ballot. These comprise a $50 million investment in Maine’s small business and innovation economy. They include investments to better support farmers, foresters, and fishermen; investments in human health, investments in small business growth financing, and investments in clean water infrastructure. All were passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support, in one case despite a gubernatorial veto.
The Workforce Committee was selected for its demonstrated leadership to promote economic growth and development in Maine. Photos from the presentation of the award at MDF’s 36th Annual Meeting can be found here.