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This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week, I attended an event for a great Maine company.

Hodgdon Yachts opened a new facility in Richmond, Maine that is going to allow the company to expand its business and create 35 new jobs within the next two years.

Hodgdon -- an excellent example of a traditional Maine business that is adapting to successfully competing in the global marketplace.

Boatbuilding became an important industry very early in Maine’s history, even well before we were a State. Through the years, the industry has seen countless changes and weathered many storms.

As shipbuilding transitioned from the wood frames to ironclads, Maine fell behind as new technologies replaced older, tried-and-true methods of construction.

Today, just the opposite is happening. Boatbuilding in Maine is a growing economic cluster of activity that demonstrates how members of an industry can cooperate for the mutual benefit of all.

Boatbuilders are capitalizing on these new technologies, developed cooperatively with the University of Maine System, cutting-edge composite materials bringing new strength and flexibility to the age-old craft of boatbuilding.

Maine has a reputation for craftsmanship, durability and reliability, honesty and integrity when it comes to our Maritime history.

Whether it’s boatbuilding like Hinckley, Hodgdon or Sabre, or our proud heritage at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine has a reputation that is quickly spreading around the world.

But the growth of our boatbuilding industry hasn’t happened by accident.

It has taken dedicated and forward-thinking entrepreneurs who have grown family businesses into internationally recognized icons for luxury and quality.

It has taken the support of communities and voters who have recognized the importance of investing in research and development and innovation to create private sector job growth.

And it has taken an aggressive economic development effort to assure that Maine maintains a competitive business environment and a level playing field.

Maine’s Pine Tree Economic Development Zone program has made a difference for Hodgdon Yachts and more than 185 other Maine businesses.

I first established Pine Tree Zones back in 2003 to help spur economic development and quality job creation. Initially, the program was targeted in areas of the State where unemployment was higher than average and wages were lower than average.

In 2007, we expanded the program to make it more widely accessible – statewide.

All told, the program has helped to grow more than 5,800 new jobs, which pay better than average and include access to health insurance and retirement benefits.

Also this week, I had the opportunity to visit a new Bowdoinham company in one of Maine’s bedrock industries – agriculture.

Locally Known -- New England’s first large-scale organic farm and processing center.

Organic farming has grown tremendously in Maine during the last 20 years. In 1987, Maine just had 21 organic farms and that number has grown to about 350 in 2007.

Maine ranks first in New England in the production of food, first in agricultural sales, first in the world in the production of wild blueberries.

Maine has more than 7,100 farms. Most of them are family-owned, generation after generation. They account for more than $600 million in sales every year and add $2 billion a year to the state’s economy.

With the support from Maine’s Department of Agriculture, new technologies and techniques, Locally Known will help pioneer new opportunities for Maine farmers.

When it comes to economic development, we know in Maine that we can’t abandon our traditional strengths. It’s more important to make sure that we’re building off our assets.

So by supporting boatbuilding, agriculture and our forest products industry, we can help them become more competitive and grow in new directions, creating good-paying jobs along the way.

Whether it’s the Pine Tree Economic Development Zone Program, community development block grants or bonds to jump start innovation and research and development for private sector company job growth, Maine has the plan to create jobs, grow our economy and support our core industries, and make sure that our people get more education and training to raise their standards and the opportunities for better paying jobs and benefits for them.

So I’m proud of our farmers and boatbuilders and people here in the State of Maine. I’m proud of the scholars and entrepreneurs who are driving innovation and helping to create new jobs.

I wish you all a very nice weekend and thank you for this opportunity.

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