Forbes ranks Maine last for doing business — again

BANGOR — 

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No matter what the sign says, Forbes Magazine says Maine is the worst state to do business.

For the fourth year in a row, Forbes has ranked Maine the worst state in the nation for business.

“Not much has changed,” Forbes said Friday. “It is still burdened with an aging population and a weak economic forecast. Job growth projections are the worst in the U.S and only Vermont is expected to have slower household income growth over the next five years, according to Moody’s Analytics.”

Virginia was the best state for business, according to the annual rankings. Virginia got high marks because of strong business incentives offerings, its handling of legal claims against business and its low union membership.

Maine ranked 49th in growth prospects, behind only Wyoming. Its labor supply rank, however, was 33rd. The Pine Tree State ranked 45th for regulatory environment — another category in which Virginia was first.

Maine did better than most states — 24th — for quality of life.

Forbes placed much of the blame for Maine’s worst-in-the-nation standing on “the state’s high corporate tax burden and lousy job and economic growth forecast.”

“Job growth is expected to be the slowest in the U.S. through 2017,” a Forbes profile of Maine’s business climate states. “Maine has few big businesses located there, including none of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies by sales.”

Gov. Paul LePage made Maine’s poor ranking a big issue during his campaign in 2010 and ever since. On Friday he used a now-familiar argument that decades of Democrat rule before he took office are to blame.

“After four decades of liberal rule that has burdened Maine with high electricity rates, high taxes, overregulation and a hostile business climate, it’s no wonder that Forbes would put our state at the bottom of the list,” said LePage in a written statement. “My administration has been working hard to improve these factors for business. We passed the largest tax cut in Maine’s history, we stopped the automatic gas tax and we are directing Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds to reduce electricity costs for Mainers. We have cut bureaucratic red tape and we have balanced careful stewardship of the environment with the needs of the business community.”

These types of rankings, while appearing bad, should be taken “with a grain of salt,” Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, told the Bangor Daily News.

“I don’t want to dismiss them as worthless, but they don’t tell the whole story,” Connors said. “They shouldn’t be conclusive in peoples’ minds about how Maine should be looked at or considered.”

Contextual information is important, he said. Many of the factors Forbes considers when it creates these rankings — such as demographics and energy costs — are not ones that policymakers or the business community can improve in one year, or four, Connors said.

“That’s what needs to be kept in mind. None of these issue are being ignored and they all need to be put into the context of today’s economy,” he said.

If there is value in these types of rankings, it’s that they act “as a call to action,” he said.

“There’s a sense of value to them if they’re used to mobilize and help address some of the issues that hold us back or stand in our way of growth,” he said.

BDN Business Editor Whit Richardson and State House Bureau Chief Christopher Cousins contributed to this report.

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Comments

Robert McQueeney's picture

Does anyone here live near wind turbines?

Personally, I see little wrong with the visual effects of wind turbines, and smile when I think of all that oil free electricity. Out west, they have the room to build these away from homes, that's why they are less unpopular than around here. Here, they are built too close to homes and I'm telling you, the noise vortex on the leeward side of them is just not something many people are willing to live with. Until you live right next door downwind from one of these for a year or so, you really don't understand how it impacts the quality of life to those who do.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Sometimes progress requires a little sacrifise..........

When I was a kid, I grew up in W. Quincy Mass. right near the E. Milton line. I was born into a controversy that rivals the wind farm argument here in Maine. It was there when I was born, but hadn't been there long. I remember hearing about all the protests, the divisions among towns and cities. No body wanted this monstrosity in their back yard. Believe me, it was literally in my back yard.
This argument had all the goodies, loud noise, pollution, safety and it would come to be a terrible eye sore. It was such an eye sore back in the sixties, that today they are still trying to build sound barriers and fences to block the view.
Obviously my parents and thousands of other parents lost that battle. They lost to the "Good of the People". It was more important to the greater good of the Commonwealth, than the few thousand people who had to suffer the consequences of this atrocity. I didn't suffer from it, I even thought it was pretty cool growing up, after all I never knew life without it. Others would visit and cringe and squirm and ask how we could put up with the noise. We would always ask the same question, what noise? Life went on and I eventually moved away and never was able to forget that blight on my child hood.
Being a truck driver, even since living in Maine, I would come to use that pain in everyone's backside a lot. For me, later in life that childhood disaster my parents so long ago fought to keep from existing, has saved me many hours getting back to Maine after long trips on the road. It shaved an hour of the trip if I was coming from the right direction, That mess, which by the way, some people like to refer to as the "South East Expressway, into Boston, is probably just one of the hundreds of thousands of small sacrifices many hundreds of thousands of people had to endure in the name if progress..............

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I'll have to agree with John on this one, billions........

I'll have to agree with John on this one, I think "billions' of tourist dollars is just a little inflated. I also agree with Wayne, The Governor, in totally screwing up that potential multimillion dollar wind deal, just to allow UMaine to jump on board. Isn't what I would call helping the problem. The bigger concern with that deal is, big companies tend to talk to other big companies. The best advertisement in the world is word of mouth. I guess Paul LePage isn't quite on board with that little known fact yet.
I also feel that government either Democrat or Republican need to be more acceptable to change. If there is one thing that stands out in this State, it's the hell bent resistance to doing something new. Just the mere suggestion of trying something different in this State, guarantees a nonstop debate that would be similar in length to the Hatfield and McCoy feud, and most likely just as violent. Wind power is a perfect example of this. Sure, we all want to keep our nice picture perfect scenes out our living room windows. So when someone brings up using wind power, we start having meetings, Selectman meetings. just about every kind of meeting you can think of. This war goes on for years. You can't please everyone, so instead we have more Selectman's meetings. In other places they actually do things, actually work at producing wind power. Work through the inevitable drawbacks, until they have a working solution to put into action. That may be why there are companies able to invest millions of dollars into a place like Maine, with a working product. While we're still having meetings. We are all so convinced it can't work, that we fail to see the finished product put right in our laps, ready to go to work. What happens? Our Governor chases the company out of the State, with their millions of dollars.
I may not know all the answer's but I do know where we could start, and it's not at a meeting.
Now for a real problem facing us citizens of Maine, Why aren't we allowed to agree or disagree with each other anymore? We went through this once before, I thought we took care of the problem that time. At least let us know what the problem is this time, I'm sure we could find a solution to make everyone happy.
If there's one group of people anywhere who agrees to disagree on a multitude of issues it us readers of the E-Edition of the Sun Journal. I think we all agree that having the ability to agree or disagree is extremely beneficial to these posts, I hope for a quick resolution to this problem..........

I would click the "I agree

I would click the "I agree button" if there was one. I do agree, what's the problem with a few "I disagrees" or "I agrees".

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

We need to get a campaign

We need to get a campaign started to bring back the Agree and Disagree buttons.
If not here, WHERE? If not now, WHEN? If not us, WHO?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I'm going to write a letter to the editor...........

I'll try to work it into my busy scheduled next week, I think I have Monday free, until oh, sometime next Sunday. I'll see if I can squeeze it in by then. Until that time I'm going to keep mentioning it in all my posts. Agree???????????

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

If not us, WHO?

If not us, WHO?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Agree. Sure wish I had a

Agree. Sure wish I had a button to Agree with.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

At least the Sun Journal

At least the Sun Journal could have given us a reason why they did away with the Agree and Disagree buttons. Don't you Agree?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Yes I agree....

I forget, what was the reason last time they pulled this little trick?????????

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I could be wrong, but I think

I could be wrong, but I think it was because some of the posters had complained.

Hmmm. Probably the ones that

Hmmm. Probably the ones that got alot of disagrees? It's frustrating to have to comment instead of just clicking.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Precisely. By the way, where

Precisely.
By the way, where did you get a picture of my cat, Otis?

Ha! My Waldo! A shelter cat

Ha! My Waldo! A shelter cat and a sweet and wonderful guy.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I would........

I would agree with your agree, but dammit, there's no agree or dis agree buttons....................

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot sez that was his

The parrot sez that was his favorite function; standing on the Disagree button to piss of conservatives.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Maybe it's the Parrot..........

Ah, the truth is starting to appear, some flagrant misuse of the disagree button. Either that or he pissed off one to many conservatives..........

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Don't know about that, Frank.

Don't know about that, Frank. There aren't that many conservatives out there to piss off. As the parrot, an avowed liberal,likes to tell me, one conservative is one too many. Reminding him of who it is that feeds him generally brings him back from his delusion.

John Ponte's picture

Billions of Tourist Dollars???? <Hart Daley>

Just where is that kind on money ?
In Tourist?? I don't think SO!!
If any one drives North ,West or East of Bangor but for MDI you would see a lot of low income and no income towns!
The towns South of Bangor are in a big ass huirt as the State it self .
Just where is this so call Billons of dollars ?
Not in the few people that go fishing or hunting as everone seems to think .

If that was the case the small mon and pop stores would still be open up there .

The only place in this state, that any kind of big money, as in a few Millons in tourist is on MDI or the coast from MDI south or the Sebago region of Maine where there isn't any wind towers and that is only in the ten weeks of summer ,after the summer season ,even thoes places are all boarded up.
.
Wind is the only deal we have on our door step right now to turn the electrice rates around so the power bills for a small store or home or a lumber mill can be with in reason .

I was looking into buying a small store a few years ago the place had less than 1000 SQ FT and the power bill for that store was a grand a week !
And The AC wasen't even on .

I didn't buy the place but did look into others and they all are in the same boat with there power bills .
So if Tourist spend that kind of money here in the state of Maine Please do tell us on what and most of all WHERE,, because I want in on the Business Plan ,

Any way one thing I don't understand, just what does wind have to do with being on the bottom of a list of some MAG?
All of the big projects that had been shot down here in this state over the past ten years or so is out of this world >
There is allways this no no no to the people that own the land and want to bring jobs into this state but people as of your self ,that most likly don't own any land to do anything on want to control some ones else land and most of there money and the end result is,, NO JOBS FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOUR SELF >>>

The problen I feel in this state is we are getting lock out of any real good companys trying to set up shop here in this state,, by out of staters mostly trust fund babys that have the time and money to put big efforts into kepping this state from inproving the lifes of the working people in this state , that is the so call middle class are being reduce to low income or no income .
Really BILLONS WHERE, AS IF.

Hmmm...

They didn't mention that while the Givernor speaks "open for business" out of one side of his mouth, he's quietly working to kill deals with out of state (and country) businesses if he doesn't like them. Who's going to invest in a state that does that?

Maybe if the Repubs could

Maybe if the Repubs could control the state legislature for more than just two years, we could get this state back on track. The Dems have been running Maine into the ground for 38 of the last 40 years. You give the both branches of the state government to the Dems, and this is what you get. To give them the governorship next year along with legislature, means complete disaster for the state for years to come.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"The Dems have been running

"The Dems have been running Maine".....
Did you mean ruining? 0O:-)

First thing your precious

First thing your precious rebubs did when they had control was cut taxes so deeply that the State couldn't cover its own budget, hence they had to suspend revenue sharing. Which is forcing towns to either raise property taxes or cut budgets so deeply that they can't function. Yeah, thanks for that.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

BUT

We put up a sign. We loosened fireworks legislation. We threw a bunch of people off their health insurance. It appears Forbes has something against old people, worker safety and good wages. And since they praise Virginia for their incentives maybe they have something against lowering taxes to the point where the government has nothing left to invest in infrastructure or incentives.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Ah, yes, it's Forbes' fault.

Ah, yes, it's Forbes' fault.

Hart Daley's picture

BIG Wind = BIG LOSS for Maine

The more we allow industrial wind projects to desecrate Maine's scenic beauty and mountains, the very things that outdoor enthusiasts flock here for to spend billions of tourist dollars, the more we will lose. Industrial wind projects will cause our electric and energy transmission rates to increase, another LOSS for Maine, since that will drive prospective business to other states. Industrial wind projects provide ONLY "temporary" employment opportunities and are not a stable source of reliable "permanent" employment for Maine families, just another LOSS in the Forbes economic job growth forcast. Lastly, our "Quality of LIfe" standing (24th) will do nothing but DECLINE on the Forbes rating if we continue to allow out of state, industrial wind corporations to continue to use and abuse our beautiful state. Industrial wind projects are destroying our WAY OF LIFE. This state should be focusing on how to attract more outdoor enthusiasts by promoting our wilderness and outdoor opportunities, NOT by letting big wind destroy them all. Get on the right track or get used to being at the bottom of the Forbes list for many many years to come.

 's picture

The wind is blowing the other way.

Wind power in whatever form it takes will be less invasive and destructive than the decades of industrial dumping and hydro power were to our 'quality of life' If I don't want to look at a wind farm, I can face the other direction and still get a fantastic view. If I wanted to get away from the toxic rivers I remember when I was growing up, I'd have to drive hours, and chances are, I'd just end up near another toxic river.

Those 'temporary' jobs you are so down on would still be better jobs than living at the mercy of Wal Mart, or trying to get a living wage working at one of the casinos some people seem so hot to open up. One wind project finishes, the workers go on to the next one. Other workers get long term jobs maintaining the facility for DECADES. Or we open up our state and start installing enough solar power to make a dent, and people have jobs for years installing them on every house.

Right now, the 'way of life' you say is being destroyed involves buying expensive oil from out of state or out of the country. It involves reversing the flow of old pipelines and sucking in toxic tar sands oil from Canada that those lines were never meant to hold. It involves dealing with damage to our trees, wildlife, and buildings from acid rain coming down from the smoke emitted from the power plants west of us that we buy our power from. When a wind farm has a problem they repair the windmill. When an oil pipeline has a problem, the entire town it was flowing underneath is destroyed. I know which option I'd pick.

You're pissed at 'Big Wind' well I'm pissed at big oil or big hydro and have been for decades. I'll take the chance and get used to the look of windmills on the horizon. They can't look any worse than the swath of high tension lines coming down from Canada or east from New Hampshire.

Not that this has anything to do with the article you're commenting on really.

Hart Daley's picture

Big Wind = BIG LOSS for Maine

The more we allow industrial wind projects to desecrate Maine's scenic beauty and mountains, the very things that outdoor enthusiasts flock here for to spend billions of tourist dollars, the more we will lose. Industrial wind projects will cause our electric and energy transmission rates to increase, another LOSS for Maine, since that will drive prospective business to other states. Industrial wind projects provide ONLY "temporary" employment opportunities and are not a stable source of reliable "permanent" employment for Maine families, just another LOSS in the Forbes economic job growth forcast. Lastly, our "Quality of LIfe" standing (24th) will do nothing but DECLINE on the Forbes rating if we continue to allow out of state, industrial wind corporations to continue to use and abuse our beautiful state. Industrial wind projects are destroying our WAY OF LIFE. This state should be focusing on how to attract more outdoor enthusiasts by promoting our wilderness and outdoor opportunities, NOT by letting big wind destroy them all. Get on the right track or get used to being at the bottom of the Forbes list for many many years to come.

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