Maine Can Do Better than be Copycat State

We agree wholeheartedly with a recent Grace Hinrich Portland Press Herald opinion piece suggesting Maine has a lot more going for it than was reflected in the recent ranking of the state as the nation’s worst place for business.

For many reasons, including its geographical location, Maine faces unique challenges.  However, due to its natural resources and tradition of entrepreneurship, Maine also has unique opportunities.  The glass is half full  Let’s focus on that.

Maine’s Biggest Asset — Quality of Place

Amidst the annual parade of state rankings, many of which — for Maine — seem to be negative economic ones, comes a ranking of Northern Maine as #7 on the Lonely Planet List, “Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2013.”

This kind of positive ranking is an opportunity for Maine, the LePage administration, and state government as a whole to press a re-set button.  Maine has a lot going for it.  Maine has a quality of place that many other states can only dream about.  Maine has what many, many tourists want — and more of them will come here and spend their money if we provide the needed infrastructure, promote the opportunities, and preserve the uniqueness and natural beauty of our state.

Thus far, the LePage administration’s stance has been to rail against any form of regulation and to refuse to recognize that quality of place enhances the state economy.

In the past year, LePage and the Republicans passed legislation that weakened LURC, the regulatory body which traditionally has been responsible for preserving the character of and presiding over any development of the northern Maine woods.  As part of that legislation, in keeping with the Republican belief that regulation is inherently bad, the Land Use Regulation Commission was renamed the “Land Use Planning Commission.”  More than a few have expressed concerns that the new commission will lead to more haphazard development of the Northern Maine Woods.

We encourage Paul LePage to celebrate Lonely Planet’s recognition of Maine as being in the national top 10.  We also encourage the LePage administration to celebrate the quality of place that we do have in Maine — and to work to preserve this all-important physical and economic asset that is such a big part of the heritage of our state.

The MPBN story on the Lonely Planet ranking is here.