From away? Free hugs from Paul LePage. Or, how to really attract people to Maine

Cynthia: Gov. LePage often says, “investment capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s appreciated.”

The same is true of people, so instead of marginalizing those “from away,” shouldn’t Maine be embracing people who choose this state to live in, work and raise a family?

Mike: I agree, but I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

Cynthia: I’ll cut to the chaff. Mainers — especially Republicans — must stop trumpeting only what’s native, white, rural and north of Augusta.

Our governor loves to bluster about his business acumen, but he misses the forest for the trees. We need more people here, not just capital. The state of Maine is not “open for business” until it welcomes people from all over and celebrates the economic engines of colorful cities that attract them.

Mike:  It isn’t mean Republicans preventing others from moving here or forcing my generation of native Mainers to move away. It is the dearth of good-paying careers and the constant fight against everything to create something. I see it every day on Facebook: smart, hardworking, Maine-born friends who are succeeding in their careers in Massachusetts, New York, Texas, California, Arizona, and other places.

Now, can people buck the trend and find success here? Absolutely. Is it a lot easier to do in a lot of other places? You bet.

So let’s advertise free hugs from the governor for all new residents. Without capital and jobs, they’re not coming.

Cynthia: Your generation? If there’s one thing more detrimental than Maine’s provincialism, it’s the foolhardy notion that only “young people” can add value.

People from around the world of all ages and colors with backgrounds as tragically successful as Paul LePage have ideas equally powerful, and want to do business where workers are educated, communities are safe and the quality of life is high. Capital rarely migrates to Hicksville, Mike, because it thrives in vibrant cities like Portland and Bangor. It’s time the state’s CEO embrace his highest-performing divisions and biggest market share, even though it might mean rubbing elbows with Democrats, “liberals,” or even artists.

Mike:  Cynthia, the only way to stop being the oldest state in the union is to reduce our median age of 43.5. To do that, we need more people under the age of 43.5. It isn’t a “foolhardy notion,” it’s math. Unless Ms. Quimby has the fountain of youth hidden away somewhere on her land?

As for capital going to “Hicksville,” I guess we’ll have to disagree on that. North Dakota isn’t any less rural than Maine, and investment is flooding there. Why? Because of opportunity.  The same can happen in Maine with wood-derived fuels or international shipping — we just need a tax and regulatory environment that helps make it so. Bangor and Portland — and Lewiston, Auburn and other cities — are certainly part of the equation. It’s notable that Gov. LePage has a great relationship with the mayors of L/A, yet Portland is a city divided against itself; see Congress Square park, panhandlers, or Bayside. On which side should the governor jump in to help the Democrats, liberals, and artists?

Cynthia: North Dakota’s got oil! That’s what led to its economic explosion, not trickle-down tax policy or deregulation. Maine’s got trees, water and old people — and old is in! Look at the U.S. Senate and all the advertising on TV.

It’s funny you mention the “constant fight against everything to create something” and Roxanne Quimby while discussing woods and les gens d’un certain age in Maine. The intersection of Boomers, prosperity, woods and math is a national park, of course, which is opposed by Gov. LePage and many Republicans.

As for Portland, nobody expects Gov. LePage to meddle in local issues, but a real leader would recognize and publicly appreciate the hard work that goes into making it a nationally recognized city to own a business and raise a family. Cities are Maine’s Bean Boot! The color of their political stripes doesn’t matter. It’s silly and un-businesslike if Gov. LePage will only work with mayors who speak French and are registered Republican.

Mike: North Dakota has resources they are leveraging; in other words, opportunity. No different than our trees and water. Actually, trees and water are replenishable, so we’ve got an advantage. The national park debate is a longer discussion, but Ms. Quimby could create a private park tomorrow, no fight necessary. It is the long arm of Washington that concerns most opponents, including rural Democrats.

And, yes, Maine has some great cities. But the credit for making them great isn’t some incorporeal concept of “city,” it is the men and women who go to work. To refute the president, they did build that. Restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, promoteurs, and countless other -eurs and the teams they lead are who put Maine cities on all those top-whatever lists.

Yet their ventures share one attribute in common: it takes money to make it all work. That’s why we need an environment where local capital can be reinvested and to which new capital is attracted. We’ll have more jobs, which will lead to new residents. And, since you are “from away” originally, you can cash in on the “free hug from Paul LePage” policy.

Cynthia: I was 25 and fresh out of a nationally recognized law school when I chose to work, get married, buy a home, raise a family, serve my community and grow several small businesses in southern Maine. Yes, I’m from away, and I’ve been hugged. Are “liberals” like me still welcome here?