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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As we look back on 2009, it’s hard to find any sector of the world economy that didn’t struggle.

The global recession hit about every industry in just about every country in the world.

Unemployment in the United States has stubbornly stayed above 9 percent, sticking at 9.5 percent in June.

In Maine, we’ve done a little bit better, but unemployment was still too high at 8 percent as it was reported in June.

Maine’s ultimate success depends on our ability to capitalize on the things that make us unique and to expand our reach into new areas and new markets.

Last year, Maine’s exports were hard hit.

Markets around the world had little capacity to buy or invest. For 2009, exports dropped by 24 percent after four years of steady growth.

Trade is critical to Maine’s economy. More than 24,000 workers are employed by foreign companies, which have invested more than $6.2 billion dollars in property and equipment in our State.

So, their success is our success.

So far in 2010, we are beginning to see the export market turn around.

Through the first half of the year, exports were up 44.7 percent.

And, more impressively, pulp exports were up 200 percent and paper exports were up 72 percent.

The pulp and paper and wood products industry are critical to Maine, and particularly to the more rural parts of the State.

The industry had a rough time in 2009, with production dropping significantly.

As an article last week in MaineBiz points out, Maine’s pulp and paper industry are tied to world events.

The recovering world economy has helped boost demand, but other factors have also contributed.

An earthquake in Chile had a noticeable effect on that country’s pulp industry, and increasing demand in China has made Maine’s pulp more valuable.

It all translates to more work and more economic activity in Maine.

Another important sector of Maine’s economy has also seen exports increase over last year.

According to the Maine International Trade Center, semiconductor exports are up 23 percent.

This high-tech industry is very important to our State.

So when we talk about the economy, the conversation too often ends at Maine’s borders.

As MaineBiz wrote, our state is tied to global markets. A tug in one corner of the world will make ripples in Maine.

We have to take a broader view and be proactive in our efforts to expand trade opportunities for Maine companies and to attract investment into our State.

In June, I announced a new initiative to attract more foreign direct investment in Maine.

In partnership with the private sector, the effort will focus on attracting investments in Maine’s renewable energy and advanced materials fields.

The work will be done by the Maine International Trade Center and was made possible by a cooperative effort between the Department of Economic Development and a private company in Monmouth, Maine, named Tex Tech.

Under the corporate leadership of Ciaran Lynch, Tex Tech has become a valuable corporate citizen in Maine and is working with us to expose new investors to the benefits our State has to offer.

The initiative also builds upon the successful trade mission I led last year to Germany and Spain that reinforced to the world that Maine is a good place to invest in the energy sector.

So far, less than a year after the trip, companies that participated in the European Energy Mission and trade shows in Vietnam, Dubai and Germany reported more than $23 million in export sales – which is an all-time record.

Last year was tough all the way around, and exports certainly suffered. But our State has tremendous potential now that the world economy is slowly recovering.

Maine has a well-earned reputation for quality, integrity and a highly skilled workforce. That’s an advantage that can pay off for our State.

We’re also working hard to make sure Maine is competitive for new companies looking to get off the ground here.

CB Insights is a New York-based firm that tracks state-run innovation grant programs, which help to support start-up companies.

According to its research, in the last five quarters Maine has made more investments in early-stage innovative companies than any other state.

The success has been attributed to the Maine Technology Institute, which works to spark entrepreneurship, create jobs and increase economic development in partnership with the Department of Economic Development.

This past year, MTI awarded $930,000 in seed grants and another $3.7 million in development awards.

These grants are going to innovative companies in Maine that are working on cutting-edge technologies and creating good-paying jobs here in our State.

Since 1999, MTI has provided funding for almost 1,300 projects, leveraging more than $183 million in matching investment.

For every dollar MTI funds, it attracts more than $14.

That’s a smart investment that was made possible by the voters of Maine supporting a bond initiative to establish it.

Whether it’s working to expand exports, attracting investment into Maine, or supporting homegrown economic development, our State has never lost its focus on creating good jobs for our people.

That work was made harder by the recession, but Maine is blessed with innovative thinkers, good products and a great workforce. With the right support, their potential is unlimited – both here at home and beyond our borders.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

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