Maine DEP Announces Toll-Free Assistance Hotline, Services For Businesses and Individuals

May 10, 2011

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Spokesperson/Director of Education & Outreach samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov/ 287-5842 (office) or 592-0427 (cell)

-Answered by the department’s Small Business Ombudsmen, the toll-free hotline is a resource for businesses and individuals in need of assistance navigating the regulatory process-

AUGUSTA – Businesses and individuals navigating the state’s environmental regulatory process can now access assistance via a toll-free hotline answered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s lead agent of advocacy.

Julie Churchill, the newly-appointed director of Maine DEP’s Office of Innovation and Assistance and the department’s Small Business Ombudsman since 2008, will answer the hotline, which can be called at 1-800-789-9802.

In her role as Small Business Ombudsman, Churchill is charged with championing Maine’s small businesses within the department and her answering the hotline will help that advocacy service be more accessible to businesses and individuals.

The hotline is part of the environmental department’s restructuring of its Office of Innovation and Assistance to better focus on assistance as part of Governor Paul LePage’s initiative to improve Maine’s regulatory climate and create a stronger culture of cooperation between state government and Maine people and businesses.

“This is another example of how our departments are reaching out to assist Mainers,” Governor LePage said. “It’s important for our small business owners to know we’re here to help them through the permitting process. In order to create more jobs we must give job creators the tools they need to be successful. Julie and her staff are a much needed resource to those looking to develop and expand opportunities to Mainers.”

Other services offered by the office, which includes a team of four staff available to travel statewide, are: permitting guidance including step-by-step assistance with completing permit forms; reviewing what regulations apply to a specific business based on their operations; providing on-site compliance assistance; and confidentially authorizing an internal audit policy to help a business or individual come into compliance without fear of penalties or fines.

The office also offers technical assistance to help businesses recognize and quantify economic savings through the integration of long-term processes, practices and products that reduce or eliminate the generation of pollution and waste or that protect natural resources through conservation and more efficient use.

“While all of the 410 staff members at Maine DEP are committed to customer service, our Office of Innovation and Assistance serves as a centralized, confidential and cost-free resource for those in need of assistance and advocacy in navigating department-enforced laws, rules and regulations,” said Churchill. “We believe our department can be accommodating and provide assistance without sacrificing environmental quality and in fact, see our office as being a resource that can help businesses and individuals be better stewards of environmental and economic sustainability.”

The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development also has a hotline for businesses to call to get assistance in state licensing, permitting & regulatory issues. The number for that Red Tape Hotline is 207-624-7486. The two state agencies are working closely together to collaboratively facilitate job creation and investment.

For more information about Maine DEP’s Office of Innovation and Assistance, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep/innovation or contact Director Julie Churchill at 1-800-789-9802 or julie.m.churchill@maine.gov.

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