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Since we took office, we have made Maine more competitive. Maine’s unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest rate since 2008, and almost 13,000 new private-sector jobs have been created since we took office.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

We are making strides, but we still have work to do. We must make the Maine a leader in attracting investment, growing jobs and delivering prosperity.

That’s why my administration has proposed legislation to create “Open for Business Zones,” which are enhancements to Pine Tree Zones. The zones would offer incentives to businesses that invest at least $50 million and create 1,500 jobs. These zones will make Maine more competitive with other states.

“Open for Business Zones” will offer 3 major incentives: tax relief and reduced energy rates; recruiting and training assistance for companies; and paycheck protection for employees.

We will offer companies relief on taxes and reduced energy costs. Taxation and electricity costs are the two biggest factors companies consider when deciding whether to move to a state.

Our administration has been trying to lower energy costs for three years, but our efforts have been thwarted by liberals in the legislature. As Maine’s electricity rates soared to the highest in nation last week, legislators were discussing how to promote solar energy rebates.

There is a major disconnect among liberal politicians when it comes to the cost of electricity. If we want to attract companies that offer careers, we must be competitive.

We will offer assistance to help recruit and train workers for companies that locate in “Open for Business Zones.” We have been working on Maine’s skills gap for three years, and we will build on those efforts to train workers in the high-tech skills that these companies require.

Most importantly, employees in these zones will not be required to join labor unions. Large employers have told us they prefer locations in which employees are not forced to join labor unions. They want people to have a choice. “Open for Business Zones” will provide such locations for these employers.

As a businessman, one of the most frustrating parts of running a company was the time it took to deal with government. As a governor, it is vital to create a business friendly attitude in our state that gives the private sector the best opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Our goal is to make state government a partner with the private sector, not an adversary.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “Investment capital goes where it is welcome and stays where it is appreciated.”

This is not about politics. It’s not about the minimum wage. It’s about a career wage. It is about economics. It’s about moving Maine forward.

It’s time we make Maine a leader in attracting investment, growing jobs and delivering economic prosperity to all Maine families.

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