Thinking positive leads to action: 5 things we can all do for Maine
Only a week after I posted the Top 10 Reasons to Have a Positive Outlook About Maine’s Economy, Forbes magazine ranked Maine 50th among the states for business. This is obviously discouraging; who wants to hear more bad news? Forbes’ article cites several negatives including high energy costs, weak growth forecasts, and the regulatory environment. These numbers are important measures and the measures are bad, but as I look at the list I find that they don’t negate any of my 10 points, which were more about the fundamentals – the tools to build a better economy.
We can, and do need to do something about the issues. Some of them need to be resolved in the political arena, such as the difficult regulatory environment which is something our Governor and State Legislature have been working on recently. There are things we all can do as ordinary citizens to move Maine forward. Here are five that came to mind for me.
1. Think positive – As our CEO Fletcher Kittredge said in a recent article, it’s important that we have an accurate picture of where we are, but we also need to retain the firm belief that we can impact our own future for the better and continue to move forward. Consumer confidence is one of the most cited statistics in tough economic times, with good reason.
2. Buy local -This seems like a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many arguments you’ll find on both sides of this issue. Logically though, if more of your dollar stays in Maine it will help the Maine economy more. A 2009 article in Time Business indicated that money spent locally is more than twice as efficient at keeping the local economy alive than purchasing from non local sources.
3. Become a lifelong learner and go back to school – At least three of my top ten reasons for optimism were about education and at least one of Forbes’ poor rankings for Maine, the labor supply, was directly related to education. Clearly, Forbes is not saying we don’t have enough people looking for work. The jobs that will be created in the new economy will require either advanced training or a college degree. At a Maine Telecommunications User’s Group meeting this spring, we heard from the CEO of Wright Express, which had several unfilled jobs requiring computer science degrees and couldn’t find qualified people to fill them. The openings we’ll have in the coming year will require either specialized IT training or a college degree. This is why it’s such good news that Maine has a great community college system with low tuition.
4. Implement that business plan – Many of the jobs created in Maine are and will be created by small businesses organized by Maine entrepreneurs. If you have a great idea that you believe in, there’s no time like the present to get it started. As I said in my top 10, Maine has some great support resources to help you out, and if you’re concerned that a recession is not a time to start a business, take a look at these 14 giant companies that got started in tough times.
5. Support initiatives that invest in Maine’s future – Infrastructure projects are often advocated as a means of putting people to work in tough times, with good reason. Sound infrastructure puts people to work in construction in the short run, and facilitates economic development in the long run. While roads and bridges are still important, the infrastructure of the digital economy will be broadband access and renewable energy. The Three Ring Binder is a nation leading example of investment in digital infrastructure that we need to build on. It’s vital that we continue to work to push this infrastructure closer to the front doors of homes and businesses everywhere in Maine.