Viewpoint: Broadband can assist Maine avoid ‘demographic winter’ – Bangor Daily News

29April 2021

The BDN Opinion area operates separately and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing short articles in other places in the newspaper or on Stop me if you’ve heard this one in the past. Maine is a tough location to do organization. This difficulty hinders economic development and drives folks from the state. Theproblem is reaching crisis levels and Augusta needs to react

. Noise familiar? It is a familiar tale used to numerous difficulties. Our populace problems are one. With the brand-new census data

, Maine’s population growth lagged far behind the country to leave us in 42nd place for the portion of population change. By typical age, we’re the earliest state in the Union. It is quite difficult to improve the economy when your population isn’t actually growing but it is continuallyaging. In academic circles, this is called a”group winter season.”It isn’t pretty. Nonetheless, hope can often be discovered in not likely locations. The COVID pandemic is one. Thousands of folks”from away”gathered to Maine to ride out the proverbial storm. Home rates and sales have actually escalated. This presents some challenges in the near term as our preparation boards andhomebuilders try to catch up to the demand.

However, as long as

we do not mess it up with silly tax policy, many of these new residents might discover Maine the perfect place to both live and work. Which can assist grow both our economy and our neighborhoods. A great deal of these jobs are virtual. They can be done from Raymond, Rangely or Roque Bluffs with a strong sufficient internet connection. As long as these folks can likewise access physical transportation facilities– whether

airports in Portland or Bangor, or a strong roadway system– to fulfill in person when needed, they would have the ability to remain here longer term. Which means brand-new property, sales and income tax income. And local buy from stores and farms

. And volunteers in the regional school. In short, it indicates that our market winter season can give way to a brand-new spring. However there is a weak spot in this equation. It hinders our economic growth and might drive these brand-new homeowners away before they set down roots. It’s broadband web. More specifically, the absence thereof.

Gov. Janet Mills and GOP state Sen. Rick Bennett signed up with forces this week to offer legislation to address this problem. Simply put, they would take a huge piece of the federal money sent out to Maine for COVID reaction and utilize it to supercharge a federal government firm, refashioning it as the”Maine Connection Authority.” It is a bold proposal. That said, and as always, our history can be useful.

In the early 1990s, Maine was a difficult location to do company

. It hampered our economic growth, reaching a crisis level. Augusta needed to react. At that time, it was a disaster in our workers’settlement system. We remained in a death spiral, with insurance companies declining to offer protection in the state. Those that stayed in the market looked for a 30 percent rate walking. It was a problem that lastly capped, and led to the first-ever state shutdown as Gov. Jock McKernan banned the budget to require action. It was

a bumpy road, however it eventually led to MEMIC. A customer-owned insurer that has been admired for its effectiveness and service. Whether you ask former guvs McKernan, Angus King, John Baldacci or Paul LePage, MEMIC is a Maine-grown success

story. It is an example worth looking at as Mills and the Maine Legislature consider their efforts to enhance broadband capacity throughout the state. The best method forward needn’t– and probably shouldn’t– be an expanded government company. Because we have actually conquered obstacles to our financial vigor prior to. And today, we’re quite typical when it pertains to employees’ settlement insurance coverage rates. In this scenario, it’s a good location to be. More articles from the BDN

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