Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in favor of LD 323

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine

in favor of LD 323,

An Act To Implement a Coordinated Strategy To Attract New Businesses, Expand Existing Businesses and Develop a Consistent and Recognizable Maine Brand

March 22, 2011


Senator Rector, Representative Prescott and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine (GSM) is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places. I regret that previously scheduled commitments prevent me or other GSM representatives to present this testimony at today’s Public Hearing.

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which seek to grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time preserving our state’s unique character and quality of place. Based on my experiences as a farmer and a former legislator that served on the Agriculture, Forestry & Conservation and the Business, Research & Economic Development committees, in addition to several Joint Select Committees, I believe this bill fits that description. GSM focuses on the value of "the Maine Brand" as a specific recommendation of Charting Maine's Future. This is one of our most powerful business development strategies, in which we can grow our economy while protecting our unique quality places. This isn't about consolidating all marketing efforts into one entity, but about encouraging and enabling a coordinated effort, so that all investments, public and private, are more effective. Some level of collaboration exists, for instance, with the Office of Tourism promoting farmers' markets as part of their efforts. And of course, private entities are free to market their products/services as they like, but they too are dealing with limited resources and would likely to be interested in collaborative efforts.

GrowSmart Maine evaluates legislation from several perspectives as we consider the relevance to our mission. We have found value in reviewing the benchmarks highlighted in the Measures of Growth in Focus Annual Report, released each year by the Maine Economic Growth Council, under the Maine Development Foundation. For this specific bill, we note that Benchmark # 8 pertains to new Business Starts and proposes that entrepreneurial activity in Maine will be greater than entrepreneurial activity in New England. We believe that passage of LD 323 will help to achieve that benchmark, as well as better support existing businesses here in Maine.

Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. I would be happy to attend the work session if that would be helpful to the committee.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s support for LD 323.