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Vibrant Maine Economy

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Vibrant Maine Economy

Introduction to the Vibrant Maine Economy Web Conference

Robert Kennedy, President, University of Maine: "On the behalf of the University of Maine, I want to welcome you to this Vibrant Maine Economy online conference. The University of Maine has been providing information, valuable and useful information, to people all across the state in a variety of formats for many, many years. And we are delighted to be able to do that this time with the partnership and collaboration and generosity of Bangor Savings Bank."

Yellow Light Breen, Senior Vice President, Bangor Savings Bank: "And on behalf of all of us at Bangor Savings Bank, welcome to this virtual conference. As Maine's largest independent bank we employee over 600 people across the State of Maine, but our success as a business is fundamentally dependent on the prosperity of the 100,000 households and businesses that we work with everyday. In other words, if the Maine economy does not thrive and grow, there is no way we can continue to thrive and grow as a Maine business. As a neighbor and community member, we also have an investment in making sure that Maine is a viable, sustainable place to live and to raise families for a long time to come and so we are really pleased to be part of this project on the Vibrant Maine Economy."

Robert Kennedy: "As we all stretch to meet the challenges of today, public-private partnerships are an important way for the University and private organizations, like Bangor Savings Bank, to reach out and provide information that's valuable to the citizens of Maine and to the communities. And that's something that Bangor Savings Bank and the University of Maine all across the state have been doing for many, many years."

Yellow Light Breen: "The University of Maine is just an enormous asset for the state of Maine and we were pleased that the School of Economics is reaching out to try to make their expertise around the economy relevant to leaders and policymakers outside the university's walls. In areas like workforce development, the creative economy, innovation, the demographic trend, the issue that are going to shape the future of our economy, not just today but for the next 20 years. So, as part of our over $1,000,000 that we invest a year that we invest back into the community, we are pleased to make one of our investments this partnership with the University of Maine on Vibrant Maine Economy. We hope you will benefit and take something away from the expertise in this online conference."

John Mahon, Dean, College of Business, Public Policy & Health: "About 18 months ago, three local area businessmen came and spoke to me and they were saddened about how often we speak about how poor things are going with the Maine economy. And how that can impact how people think and believe what the state is or is not doing. These three individuals were General Nelson Durgin, Mark Woodward and John Simpson. And what they wanted to do was put together a conference that would highlight the good things about the Maine economy and where the Maine economy could move forward in a positive way to offset some of the negative images and analysis that we are constantly bombarded with. I then, as a result of that, approached Dr. George Criner, the director of the School of Economics, and asked him if he would think about taking on this project. Thankfully and thoughtfully, he agreed to do so, and what you are about to see in a short period of time is this project. George?"

George Criner, Director of the School of Economics: "Thank you, Dean Mahon, for bringing your leadership and bringing that to our attention. We think it is a very exciting project and one of several initiatives of the School of Economics. The School of Economics came about in July of 2007, with the merging of the Department of Economics and the Department of Resource Economics and Policy. It has given us the critical mass for several initiatives including the economics lab, where students can go for help. In the near term, to help with individuals and businesses with this bad economy, we have created the household financial education initiative and we're putting together a business assistance program right now.

So, in addition to those initiatives, this Vibrant Maine Economy is one that we have been focusing on and we are really looking forward to the new format, cost savings, state policymakers won't need to drive to Orono to see this and so we're very excited about this format. It's something that we want to bring about on a more regular basis. I would like to thank Bangor Savings Bank for their support; President Kennedy and Vice President of Bangor Savings, Yellow Light Breen, for their nice introduction; and the other deans that have other faculty participating in the project. We have Dean Ashworth from Natural Science, Forestry and Agriculture and Director of Cooperative Extension, John Rebar. At the end of this, there are comments from Peter Vigue, Chairman of Cianbro Industries, and Cate Reilly, the Maine State Economist; I wish to thank them for their comments.

In addition, the University Relations, Joe Carr, Ron Lisnet and Chris Smith are very helpful with production assistance. The faculty are a very important part of this; we have Drs. Gabe, Hunt, Porter and Trostol. Dr. Todd Gabe and Jim McConnon were the driving force. Jim McConnon is the interviewer you will see and he has a split appointment with Cooperative Extension and the School of Economics. Dr. Todd Gabe looks at the knowledge economy and how important knowledge in certain areas are important for high wages and salaries. And he suggests that we don't look at what people make but what they know, and that we bolster knowledge in these key areas. Gary Hunt looks at the brain gain vs. the brain drain in Maine, and I was surprised and you may be too, to see that Maine actually gains more people with college education than we lose. So, we actually have a net brain gain in the State of Maine. Most of these workers are older than most leaving the state but they bring with them a wealth of experience in addition to their college degree. Dr. Terri Porter--hers differs a little bit in that she's not focused on knowledge so much as she is the pace of competition and the accelerated competitiveness, the product life cycle and even company life cycles are much quicker now. We've seen some big players, big stores come into Maine and restaurants and so on. We see things coming and going at a lot faster pace and she's looking at bottoms up, bottom up business innovation and trying to get everyone in the company from top to bottom to keep generating ideas and focusing and moving forward. It reminded me a little bit of Jim Collins' book Good to Great, which is a very well documented book on leadership and success. The final presentation is Phil Trostol, who looks at the labor market and points out that the labor market is different than some other markets in that supply is related to demand and that if you produce more college graduates, jobs tend to follow. And so he is focusing on the importance of college education and the value of education. We should try to reduce the cost as much as possible, fund it to the extent that we can and try to increase the quality of higher education. So, we hope all four of these will help the Maine economy in the long run and we look forward to interacting with the public in a variety of ways with follow up with these."

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