AUGUSTA (AP) – The Governor’s Council on Maine’s Quality of Place says it’s come up with 10 ways to use Maine’s distinctiveness to promote job growth.

As one effort, the advisory panel says state government should strengthen a Maine Landowner Relations Program in hopes of ensuring continuing public access to private land.

It additionally calls for the state university system to designate hospitality and leisure as “a critical discipline” within an Agenda for Action and urges the Maine Community College System to do likewise under a new Rural Initiative.

And, among other recommendations, the panel also is encouraging the Maine tourism industry itself to take a lead in strengthening the state’s tourism work force.

The council presented its second and final report Tuesday to Gov. John Baldacci.

“Maine’s best hope for the future is this very special place we live in,” said council Chairman Richard Barringer, adding that too often the state’s special quality is taken for granted.

In December, the council’s “People, Place and Prosperity” report recommended tying efforts such as promotion of landscape conservation and community revitalization together in “an asset-based development strategy” aiming to use Maine’s appeal – as a place to live, visit, work, vacation or retire – as an economic development engine.

“As the rest of the country becomes more crowded and homogenous and polluted, what sets Maine apart – what makes Maine distinctive – our Quality of Place – becomes an ever more important economic asset,” the report said.

On Tuesday as he accepted the new report, Baldacci noted that several initiatives based on the findings of the first report already have been achieved, including passage of a historic preservation tax credit, approval of uniform building codes and planning for a statewide trail network.

“Quality of place is Maine’s calling card to the world,” Baldacci said in a statement.

“It’s the ingenuity of our people, our quality of life, the natural beauty of our wilderness and the distinctive downtowns that mark our state from one end to the other. Our economic future is closely tied with our success in preserving and expanding Maine’s competitive economic advantage,” he said.


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