AUBURN – Touting Maine’s clean air and water and its low crime rate, Republican candidate for governor Shawn Moody said he wants to develop a marketing plan to convince some of the 30 million tourists who visit the state each year to move here to help grow the state’s economy and workforce.
Moody, a Gorham businessman and the founder of a chain of auto body repair shops, rolled out a multi-point plan Thursday that he said he would follow to attract business, grow jobs and increase wages for Maine workers.
“I think we ought to be able to successfully change Maine from ‘Vacationland’ to ‘Staycationland,’ ” Moody said during a news conference at NatureGuard, an awning manufacturing company. “There is no reason with a proper marketing strategy that we can’t capture some of these folks that love Maine, to stay here and raise their families here.”
Despite historically low unemployment levels, Maine’s economy is still a major issue in the 2018 campaigns. That’s because Maine’s aging population, losses in traditional manufacturing industries, stagnant wages and the lure of better-paying jobs in other states continue to combine to create a workforce shortage for the foreseeable future.
Moody said that as governor he would seek to lure back native-born Mainers who left the state for better economic opportunities elsewhere as a way to reinvigorate an aging and dwindling workforce.
He said his plan for economic development would also focus on shifting the focus in public education away from an emphasis a four-year college degree and instead directing more students into career and technical training programs.
“I’m a blue-collar guy,” Moody said. “Nobody knows blue collar like I do. We can’t have 40 to 45 percent of our student population, which isn’t financial prepared or capable, going off to college.”
Moody said technical careers for skilled tradespeople were paying starting wages of up to $60,000 a year. ” And guess what – with zero student debt,” Moody said.
As governor he said he would also create a hotline for businesses looking to build a company or bring jobs to the state. “We need a single point of contact for our businesses,” Moody said. “They don’t want to have to work their way up through the bureaucracy, seven or eight layers, like ‘Horton Hears a Who.’”
Moody also said he would find ways to expand broadband in rural Maine by building off existing broadband infrastructure in public schools, university campuses and libraries.
Moody’s top rival in the race, Democratic candidate Janet Mills, the state’s attorney general, rolled out her economic development plan in September .
Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:
Republican candidate for governor Shawn Moody holds up the first building permit he ever obtained, during a news conference on Moody’s economic development plan in Auburn on Thursday. Moody was just 17 when he started his first business, which he grew into a chain of 11 auto body repair shops. (Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald)