Recommendations for the Gubernatorial Candidates on Buildings Maine’s Next Economy

Over the last few months, Envision Maine has been talking with business and community leaders to see if there is a collective sense of how to move Maine toward a more innovative and entrepreneurial economy. We’ve found large areas of agreement, and we have begun working with stakeholders to develop shared recommendations to help the next administration bring a new prosperity to Maine.

Change is in the air in this state, when it comes to the economy. We are slowly evolving from a long dependence upon natural resource extraction to a more diverse economy driven by innovation and entrepreneurship. This transition perfectly suits Maine’s long tradition of resourcefulness and quality products.

Full Report

Reinventing Maine Government

In 2010, Envision Maine published a report called ‘Reinventing Maine Government’ that compared Maine government spending to other rural states across the country. The conclusion was that we spent far more than others in some areas (health care, corrections and administration) and less than others in some (higher education).

The report looks at what Maine can do, over the next 10 years, to replace its overlapping and sometimes inefficient government with new, more modern and more streamlined structures and operations, and to free up resources for critical investments in tomorrow’s prosperity.

Full Report

Contents of the Report

Emerging Trends in Maine: The State of the State

  • Maine is growing again, even as it ages
  • Once based on goods production, Maine’s is becoming a diverse, innovation-oriented service economy
  • Mainers are suburbanizing and sprawling throughout the state

Emerging Implications of Maine’s Trends: Opportunities and Challenges

  • Maine’s population dynamics are bringing new vitality, but serious workforce challenges remain
  • Maine’s innovation-oriented industry clusters are growing, but they remain a small part of the state economy
  • Maine’s development patterns are giving many places new life, but widespread suburbanization is driving up costs and threatening the state’s “brand”

Working toward Change: Past State Efforts, and Remaining Challenges

  • An inconsistent economic-development stance over many years has weakened the state’s efforts to improve its economy
  • Often high costs of government and an unbalanced revenue system hinder the state’s ability to promote sustainable prosperity
  • Barriers to development in regional hubs combined with weak regional growth management are eroding the state’s unique character and contributing to sprawl

An Action Plan for Promoting Sustainable Prosperity in Maine

  • Invest in a place-based, innovation-focused economy
  • Trim government to invest in Maine’s economy and finance tax reform
  • Support the revitalization of Maine’s towns and cities while channeling growth


2012 Update

In 2012 GrowSmart Maine recognized the need for an update to the original report and presents Charting Maine’s Future: Making Headway to those who, like us, are working toward this shared vision.  The purpose of this update is to recognize the successes, hold up the lessons learned, and empower Mainers to keep doing good work.

Download the Update Report here.

An Action Plan for Promoting Sustainable Prosperity and Quality Places

In 2006, GrowSmart Maine, in conjunction with the Brookings Institution, produced Charting Maine’s Future, an in-depth examination of Maine’s strength and weaknesses at the dawn of the new century. This report has become a seminal blueprint for managing growth in the new century, and its core conclusions continue to reverberate across the state, influencing discussion about managing Maine’s growth in a sustainable manner and preserving our much-heralded Quality of Place.

Summary  Recommendation Summary  Full Report

Contents of the Report

A Call to Action

  • The Urgent Need for New Thinking and New Approaches
  • Building on the Brookings Report
  • A Handbook for Citizens
  • If It Was Easy, It Would Already Be Done

An Action Plan for the Coming Decade

  • Ending Unfunded Liabilities
  • A Smaller, Smarter Legislature
  • A Flatter, Leaner, More Responsive State Government
  • Fewer Counties That Do More
  • Increasing Collaboration Among Towns
  • K-12 Education: Focusing on the Classroom
  • Building a Fully Coordinated System of Higher Education
  • Lowering Heath Care Costs Through Innovation and Prevention

About the Authors & Acknowledgements

The Hard Work of Building a More Prosperous Future

  • Two Roads Ahead
  • A New Era of Shrinking Resources and Hard Decisions
  • Reinventing Government Isn’t a Choice, It’s Already Happening
  • Managing Change to Shape a Brighter Future

The Ten Myths That Hold Us Back

Guiding Principles of Reinventing Government

When it Comes to Spending, Maine Stands Out

Three Ticking Time Bombs

  • The Aging State: Fewer Workers and Growing Needs
  • Unfunded Liabilities: Huge Payments Are Now Coming Due
  • Health Care is Crowding Out Other Needs

The Inefficient Structures of Government

  • The Legislature
  • State Government
  • Maine’s 16 Counties
  • Local Government
  • Public Education
  • Higher Education

Help Shape the Future

Appendix, Notes