By State Rep. Megan Rochelo
July 12, 2012
Looking around, it is clear that Biddeford has all of the potential to be the vibrant anchor city of Southern Maine. Once a textile center, Biddeford’s economy today is a diverse mix of manufacturing, technology and serviced-based companies that have fueled growth and innovation for our state.
We have great infrastructure. With Biddeford’s proximity to the I-95 corridor, the rail lines and seaport, we have what is necessary to attract companies that will create the jobs of tomorrow.
In just one downtown building, there is 1.1 million square feet of space for lease. Our downtown and city business district has grown better and better each year and with further investment – we could realize its full potential.
That is why it was especially troubling to me to hear that Gov. LePage will delay issuing some of the bonds already approved by voters. This move puts in jeopardy projects like improvements to rail lines, research and development initiatives and upgrades to our university campuses. This move could put 1,400 new jobs at stake.
Voters wisely, and overwhelmingly in most cases, chose to support projects all over our state to strengthen our sea ports, develop new technologies for better energy generation and research work that will create the good jobs Maine people want and need.
Leaders must look for opportunities to grow our economy, create needed jobs and get Maine on the right track to economic prosperity. Refusing or hindering projects that the people have approved is foolish at best and more like a direct affront to the voters of this state.
With almost 50,000 Maine people out of work, the jobs generated by these investments could make a difference in thousands of families’ lives. Putting people to work and getting them back as consumers of goods and services is critical to our future.
Maine was among only a handful of states where the economy actually slid backwards last year. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that Maine was the only state in New England whose economy shrank in 2011 and one of only seven states nationwide. Plus, we are dead last for personal income growth.
Gov. LePage and Republicans in the legislature are leading our state down the wrong path. Their solution for fixing Maine’s economy isn’t working. They have made it harder to live and work in Maine.
Instead of focusing on creating jobs, they’ve held economic stimulus hostage. Instead of getting our economy moving again, we’ve seen one Republican idea after another attacking working people and the middle class.
When you want a brighter and more secure future you must set yourself up for it. You must plan for it and invest in the right directions to make it happen. I want that for Biddeford and for our state.
Maine State Rep. Megan Rochelo, D-Biddeford, is in her first term in the House of Representatives and serves on the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.