AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is teaming up with a small online service to help attract new residents and workers to Maine. Businesses in much of the state complain about bring unable to find enough workers.
“The workforce issue is critical,” DECD Commissioner George Gervais told NEWS CENTER — adding that he hears nearly every day from businesses unable to fill vacancies.
Business and political leaders attribute the problem to Maine’s aging population and minimal population growth.There is broad agreement that Maine needs to find ways to attract more people to live and work here, which is why DECD has hired the online group called Live + Work in Maine. LWM was started about a year ago by Ed McKersie, who recruits workers for businesses such as hospitals. McKersie said Thursday that the goal of his effort is to identify people who want to move to Maine for the stat!s quality of life, which he describes as our “competitive advantage”. Live + Work in Maine has created a website that allows users to search hundreds of potential employers by region, to look for job opportunities in places where they hope to live. There is other information in housing and various aspects f living in Maine.
McKersie said he believes many people who visit Maine as tourists dream of being able to live in the Pine Tree Stat, and just need information about employment opportunities. As a result, he says the project began by promoting its website to tourists. They have also focused on University of Maine alumni who live in other parts of the country.
Nate Wilds was one of those people. Wilds says he and his fiancé graduated from UMaine in 2012, and lived out of state for two years before deciding to move back. He says research shows there are “hundreds of thousands” of people who would like to move to Maine.
Because of the serious need for more residents and workers, DECD. Has contracted with Live and Work in Maine to expand the effort. The state is using its tourism research consultant to do more detailed analysis of tourists’ interests. Live + Work says it has already gathered information over the past year and will gather more as t identifies people who hope to relocate.
Ed McKersie says they have already had successes finding people to move to the stage, and is confident there will be more. The need, according to Wildes, is significant. He says studies indicate Maine will need between 65,000 and 125,000 new workers over the next 10 to 20 Years. About a quarter of those, he says, will have to come from outside the stage because there are not enough young people growing up to meet the need, either way.