A month later, up the road in Bucksport, Verso Paper announced it was shutting down, removing another 570 jobs from Maine’s payroll.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Maine invested in a growth industry instead? One that’s homegrown and would lead to quality, well-paying jobs, right here on Mount Desert Island? On Nov. 4, we will have that opportunity.
To create high quality jobs and a qualified workforce, voting Yes on Question 5 would authorize the state to issue $3 million in bonds — market-driven financial instruments that will be fully repaid, as opposed to an unsecured loan — so MDI Biological Laboratory can build a 3,000-square-foot training facility here in Bar Harbor.
MDIBL is no Johnny Come Lately to the island — or to the burgeoning field of biotechnology.
Founded in 1898, the lab has trained about 2,000 students for 21st-century jobs in only the last decade. Often, these students come from outside Maine, are educated here, and then stay in staff positions at MDIBL, Jackson Labs and other dynamic Maine institutions doing cutting-edge, 21st-century health research leading to advances such as regenerative heart tissue.
We often hear about Maine’s “brain drain.” This bond would help reverse that — with good-paying local jobs and medical research the beneficiaries.
The lab estimates that, in addition to the construction jobs, 20 additional permanent full-time jobs will be created at the existing lab in the bond-funded expansion, and the lab’s training capacity will increase by about 40 percent over five years. If Question 5 is approved, the new lab would open in 2016.
Opponents say it’s not the taxpayer who should fund private enterprise. Well, the $3 million in bonds are not taxpayer-financed. They are purchased by private investors, guaranteed by taxpayers. And it would be over-matched by another $5.7 million in funds raised by the lab to support expansion of workforce training and research.
Furthermore, sales and income taxes created by the lab’s enhanced economic activity will be there for the long haul, even after the bond is repaid, while Maine’s old-line industries continue to deteriorate, causing pain for hundreds of Maine families.
It’s not often Maine has a clear chance to step up to help create economic opportunity for local people in well-paying growth industries.
Question 5 is one of those rare chances.
Don’t miss it. Vote Yes on 5 on Nov. 4.