Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in support of LDs 68, 387, 1053
June 4, 2015
Senator Hamper, Representative Rotundo and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine.
We are a statewide non-partisan, non-profit, membership-based organization working to create lasting prosperity without sacrificing the way of life that defines Maine. This testimony is one component of our support for a balance of strategic investments in Maine's infrastructure, natural resources and economic capacity is essential to making headway in achieving this objective.
LD 68 would provide funds to match municipal investment in building out broadband capacity. GrowSmart Maine is an active member of the Maine Broadband Coalition and supports this bond because of its capacity to strengthen the economy throughout Maine, with particular relevance in rural areas. This bond is an important addition to another key piece of legislation, LD 1063, which came out of the EUT committee with a unanimous vote, outlining needed updates to the ConnectME Authority. Peggy Shaffer, Small Business Advocate in the Office of the Secretary of State, offers more in depth testimony in support of this bond.
LD 387 will fund the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund and the Local Produce Fund. I can speak to the value of the AMLF from my time as a farmer. These loans provide invaluable support for farmers as they grow their own enterprises and seek new markets.
LD 1053 will recapitalize the Maine Technology Institute, one of the most impactful economic tools available to Maine businesses. MTI funds companies and projects through a competitive process that uses economic impact, scientific excellence, team quality, alignment with Maine’s industry and research strengths/potential, and collaboration (to multiply the impact and use of the equipment/facilities funded) as selection criteria to boost quality job creation/retention across Maine. Companies funded by MTI pay significantly higher wages, and grow significantly faster, than the average Maine company. Furthermore they purchased approximately one-third of their products and almost half of their services from other Maine companies – a strong “ripple effect” in productivity and employment impact. Moreover, the projects leverage more than 1:1 of cash (and possibly in-kind resources) at the time of the award as well as additional investment (Federal grants, loans, equity) as the projects move forward.
Members of this committee have much work ahead, and I applaud the way you are working to meet various challenges this session. Determining the right level of investment and the appropriate balance of needs to be addressed will be yet another “opportunity” for this committee to make Maine proud. We at GrowSmart Maine will assist in any way that is helpful.