A busload of Maine entrepreneurs and other businesspeople set off for Boston on Thursday afternoon, prospecting for new hires.
The group of 50 was scheduled to meet with about 150 Boston-area workers Thursday night to talk up business and Maine’s amenities over Maine-brewed beer and Maine-sourced food, said Nate Wildes, director of Live + Work in Maine, a group that promotes the state to job seekers.
It was the latest attempt by Maine employers frustrated by their inability to fill job vacancies, particularly for skilled workers, such as those with technical skills or college degrees.
With its workforce getting older and several key industries, such as papermaking, shrinking, Maine’s labor force is in decline. The number of people either working or looking for work in Maine has shrunk from nearly 710,000 in mid-2013 to just over 690,000 in 2016. With Maine’s unemployment rate at a low 3.9 percent last year, growing companies are finding it difficult to hire workers.
Wildes said large employers such as Bangor Savings Bank, Wex and Idexx were represented on the bus, and those companies teamed up with smaller companies to lure more skilled workers to Maine.
“Instead of fighting over slices of the pie” in looking for employees, “we’re going to grow that pie,” Wildes said.
Maine isn’t a hard sell, he said. In addition to a growing base of potential employers, the state offers a range of outdoor recreation opportunities, cultural activities and a nationally acclaimed restaurant scene.
But still, he said, it doesn’t hurt to remind Bostonians that all that Maine offers is less than two hours away from their current base.
“Employers are actively promoting the Maine quality of life as a recruiting advantage,” he said.
The event was organized by Live + Work in Maine, Maine Startup and Create Week, Red Thread, a company that designs and equips workspaces, and Knack Factory, a media company. Thursday’s gathering was held in Red Thread’s showroom in Boston.’