Sue and Mike Jillson are experienced business owners. They’re also experienced dealing with government regulation.
When the couple set out to open Fielder’s Choice in Sabattus in 2006, they first had to deal with a building that didn’t pass inspection and then an inadequate septic system. But, they persevered and their baseball-themed ice cream shop is now a local favorite.
That’s why, when the couple decided to open a second location in Manchester, the fact that they were blocked by regulation was so startling. They already had permits and had begun construction when they learned, last August, the Maine Department of Transportation required a traffic study and —possibly — a light to control turning traffic.
It was too much, so the couple called the Red Tape Hotline (624-7486) and, within 48 hours, had worked with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to find a common sense solution to account for traffic.
You can say what you like about Gov. Paul LePage’s politics and expressive outbursts, but his promise to help business is real. In the Jillsons' case, the fast and friendly help available to them through the Red Tape Hotline made the difference between expanding their business or not.
Two years ago, LePage — and a dozen other Republican governors — vowed to dismantle burdensome regulations in their coming terms. These declarations were seen as a partisan issue, and there's been much debate over how far to lower the regulatory bar, but supporting business by helping guide prospective owners through the red tape required just so they can hang an “open” sign is not a partisan issue. It’s an economic issue and, fundamentally, an issue of Maine’s prosperity.
During the recent election cycle, nearly every local legislative candidate — regardless of party — said their top priority was to work toward an improved economy by attracting new businesses and helping existing Maine commerce. The hotline does that, and does it well.
When you stop at Fielder’s Ice Cream shop in Manchester next spring, ask the Jillsons if they agree.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.