Hello Regional, Community Chamber and PROPEL Board members;
First of all let me say I’m delighted to announce that today Joe Pickering has joined the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce’s staff as our new Business Development Executive. Joe brings many years of sales experience and many great relationships with him. He has a BA in Political Science from USM and if you would like to reach out and welcome him please feel free to do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. Joe will be working closely with Marcia Hartt over the next several weeks to hit the ground running!
In other news from the past few weeks:
State budget takes center stage. On March 23rd Governor LePage will meet with our Regional Board to discuss his proposed two-year state budget. Many ideas in the Governor’s budget are familiar, including a sweeping tax reform that former State Senator (and tax guru) Richard Woodbury endorsed in the PPH over the weekend.
Our Advocacy Committee met today with Jonathan LeBonte, Director, Governor's Office of Policy and Management and Jonathan Nass, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor LePage to learn more about the specifics of the budget’s tax reform package. Our Committee will hear from opponents of the budget next month before recommending a Chamber position on the budget to the Regional Board.
At the State House. The entire Portland region has much at stake in the 2015 legislative session. We’ll be present to keep a watchful eye on how lawmakers are treating the state’s largest economic region, and to make sure that our employers’ interests are understood before lawmakers vote.
Regional prosperity. We continue to host working group meetings at the Chamber with the goal of making March recommendations to the Regional Board on how PRCC should best advance regional prosperity and support regional economic development in partnership with municipalities, nonprofits and the private sector. Marcia Hartt and I are meeting with our partners and members, and talent acquisition remains at the top of the list of ‘needs’ in our region.
USM moves ahead. USM has completed its search for a new President, and we expect to hear soon who will lead Maine’s Metropolitan University into the future. I can tell you that USM faculty, staff and administration are looking forward to a brighter future – and as I participated in the process it was great to see a new attitude emerging!
Our Trade Show moves to USM. Speaking of USM we wanted to make sure our annual Business Expo connected to our regional priorities, so we’re moving our event to Sullivan Gym at USM and making sure that the day’s activities connect to the Metropolitan University at USM. Please consider buying a booth, sponsoring the event and joining us on April 17th for a new Expo experience. Please contact our Events Manager Chandra Leister for more information – thanks!
Start Up and Create Week. The Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce will once again co-sponsor Start Up and Create Week in Portland – this year from June 22 through June 28 2015. Our staff will be involved in many aspects of making the program shine. Supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in our region is a key strategy to expanding prosperity for us all.
New Americans in the workforce. I had the pleasure of speaking on two consecutive nights last month about connecting New Americans to our regional economy, with another opportunity coming next week. As we look for more talent to fuel our economy, moving immigrants into the workforce remains an important challenge. In a related note thanks to the generous support of the John T. Gorman Foundation the PRCC will house a new Growing Portland contractor who will be coordinating all existing immigrant workforce programs to make sure our services connect to those who need them most.
Out and about. Attending the State of the State address, the Governor’s Westbrook Town Hall on the budget and several working groups in the region on economic development efforts are only a few of the activities we’ve been engaged in over the last few weeks. And we’ll be busy in the coming weeks as well as the legislative session heats up and new growth opportunities are defined.
As always these are some of the highlights from the last few weeks, but there’s always more to say, so please let me know if you have comments, questions or ideas. Your input is always welcome.