GrowSmart Maine seeks grassroots effort

17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Build sustainable prosperity in Maine without losing the state’s unique character. This is the gauntlet that GrowSmart Maine is throwing to citizens across the state. People in Aroostook County will have the opportunity to answer the challenge and offer their input during a regional town meeting at the University of Maine at Presque Isle on Monday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. in the Campus Center. The event is being co-sponsored by the University and the Northern Maine Development Commission.
   GrowSmart Maine, a statewide organization that promotes sustainable prosperity, commissioned Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. to produce an unvarnished picture of Maine and how the state is changing and to propose an action plan.
The plan had to address three questions: How can we build a stronger economy without wrecking what’s special about Maine? Are we organized to compete with other regions of the country? How can we better work together on our common hopes for Maine? The end result was the report, Charting Maine’s Future.
According to the executive summary, the report concludes that for all of its challenges the state of Maine stands within reach of a new prosperity — if it takes bold action and focuses its limited resources on a few critical investments. In that vein, the study assesses the economic and development circumstances of the northernmost New England state and offers a fiscally defensible action plan for ushering in an era of sustainable, high-quality growth.
Alan Caron, executive director of GrowSmart Maine, came to the University in January to give a brief summary of the report and expand on information and ideas contained within it. Now he is returning to the area to get more feedback from local citizens in how they feel the report addresses the needs of Aroostook County.
“The Brookings report is currently driving a great deal of discussion in the Legislature,” explained Clare Exner, chair of UMPI’s School of Business & International Studies. “Every citizen needs to weigh in on these issues. If significant change is to happen, I feel it needs to be a grassroots effort. It’s important to have broad participation on these concerns.”
The report recommends several action steps including streamlining government to lower taxes, investing in Maine’s quality of place and ‘brand,’ focusing on growing new high-wage jobs, revitalizing our communities and protecting the outdoors, and helping towns work together to lower costs.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend this meeting on April 2 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Others are being planned for Frenchville and Fort Kent. More information about Charting Maine’s Future can be found at www.growsmartmaine.org.