JAY – It’s all about attitude.

“You better think a lot of yourself or no one else will,” Maine Commissioner John Richardson of the Department of Economic and Community Development told the local chamber of commerce Friday. “Attitude matters.”

Last April when he agreed to be their guest speaker, Richardson said, he planned to give members of the Jay-Livermore-Livermore Falls Chamber of Commerce an update on economic development.

But then Wausau Paper in Jay announced Aug. 25 it would permanently shut down its No. 10 paper machine and lay off nearly 150 workers by the end of the year.

On his drive to the meeting, Richardson said he was thinking “What am I going to say? What can I offer? What can I do to lift your spirits?”

It’s like losing 4,000 civilian and military, good jobs in Brunswick, he said. He has been involved in finding ways to reuse the Brunswick naval air base in his hometown after the decision to close it.

Besides the families, residents and taxpayers, there was a Main Street that was very nervous about the future, Richardson said.

“We didn’t panic. People in Maine don’t panic. We have an ice storm, we don’t panic,” he said. Richardson said he would share some lessons he has learned along the way.

“I think there are four key ingredients,” he said. “I think we have the most educated work force in the country… I think we have the best work ethic …. We have innovation …We have technology. Technology is either going to drive us under or put us over the top.

Maine is a state of small businesses, he said. There is growth from within.

He recommended that the chamber facilitate visioning sessions in the community seeking public input, just like people did in Brunswick to find new ways to reuse the base.

“Visioning matters,” he said. “It takes a lot of planning. A lot of partners. This organization should double. It should grow. It should have visioning. What is it you want this region to be and when you get everyone behind what you want to do, it could move mountains.”

Once you know what you want, you can fill in the gaps, he said.

Visioning, planning and public input will give direction, Richardson said.

“Your attitude will carry you through,” he said.

Chamber President Brett Beno said the organization will hold a public forum and visioning session to get public input and to make sure all available resources are being tapped to help people who are losing their jobs as well as people preserve jobs in the community.


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