Recently, the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce endorsed Question 4 on the Nov. 6 ballot. There are 158,000 important reasons why.

158,000 is the number of additional workers with a post-secondary degree or credential that Maine employers will need by 2025. Even now, there are thousands of jobs in Maine that stand vacant, because employers can’t find qualified applicants.

That is a serious work force crisis and it is hurting every region of our state, including right here in central Maine. It is stifling economic growth. It is preventing employers from growing their businesses. It even threatens our very health care, as Maine will soon be facing a shortfall of 3,200 nurses.

The good news is that we can tackle this crisis by passing Question 4 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Question 4 is an investment in all seven Maine public universities to support work force initiatives, as well as related infrastructure improvements essential to student success and Maine’s economic growth.

The work force initiatives that would be undertaken if Question 4 passes would help ensure that our Maine graduates are ready to assume good paying jobs where Maine employers need employees. It will also significantly address the nursing shortage.


We cannot act fast enough, nor could there be a better place to invest than in the future of Maine’s public university students. The young people from here who want to stay here after graduation have been and will continue to be the major employee pipeline for workplaces across Maine.

If Question 4 passes, each public university across the state has planned investments to address work force needs. At USM, here is where it would invest:


Perhaps nothing is more important for us to address than the potentially catastrophic nursing shortfall in Maine. This is a looming health crisis for our state and the entire University of Maine system recently put forth a statewide plan to address it. Much of that plan depends on the passage of Question 4.

If Question 4 passes, our plan at USM is to build out an additional four-bed high fidelity simulation center, enabling USM to graduate an additional 250 nurses every five years. We are also looking at the expansion of nursing on our Lewiston/Auburn campus and investing in new online graduate degree programs in nursing.



Engineering, computer sciences, cybersecurity and technology are all fields where Maine employers are poised for substantial growth if they can find college graduates to fill positions. Right now, they can’t. Moreover, jobs in these fields are expected to increase in Maine by another 5,400 by 2024.

If Question 4 passes, USM will create new computer classrooms and a new engineering lab, enabling us to graduate more majors in these essential and good-paying fields.


Over the past several years, USM has been building a strong partnership with employers and communities to meet their most pressing needs. This is especially true in communities like Lewiston-Auburn where USM maintains a campus and so many of our students are from.

USM’s Occupational Therapy clinic in Lewiston is a great example of this partnership, serving people in need in the Lewiston-Auburn community, while at the same time preparing our students for good paying and important jobs right here. USM’s nursing graduates meanwhile fill positions at St. Mary’s and CMMC, and USM engineering graduates take jobs at places like Harriman in Auburn.

Another great example is USM’s student internship program. Last year, USM worked closely with businesses and agencies to connect more than 1,400 students with internships in local, regional and Maine workplaces. Because internships often lead to full-time jobs after graduation, they are highly valued by employers and our students alike.


These are all great successes, but with the work force crisis we are facing, we must do even more.

Question 4 will allow us to do so. When you combine USM’s planned investments with those of our sister universities, Question 4 would be a major win-win-win for our employers, students and our state: it will benefit our students who can secure good-paying 21st century jobs here in Maine, while benefiting employers who need qualified and skilled professionals to fill these jobs necessary to grow.

It would also address our impending nursing crisis, fuel our economy and better prepare Maine for the decades ahead.

In these times where our political parties agree on little, strong bipartisan unity exists on Question 4. Both parties overwhelmingly approved placing Question 4 on the ballot for the public’s approval. Gov. Paul LePage is a big advocate, as are large and small employers, hospitals, community leaders and students and their families wanting to stay and work in Maine.

For the sake of their future, our central Maine region and our state, we’re hoping the public will support Question 4, too.

Jennifer Hogan is chair of the board of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Clif Greim is president of Harriman Engineering and Architecture in Auburn. Glenn Cummings is president of the University of Southern Maine.

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