Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 8, 2017 and Island Ad-Vantages, June 8, 2017 and The Weekly Packet, June 8, 2017
One-question referendum seeks statewide investment funds
June 13 vote
by Faith DeAmbrose
Question 1 • Bond issue
“Do you favor a $50,000,000 bond issue to provide $45,000,000 in funds for investment in research, development and commercialization in the State to be used for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades that enable organizations to gain and hold market share, to increase revenues and to expand employment or preserve jobs for Maine people, to be awarded through a competitive process to Maine-based public and private entities, leveraging other funds in a one-to-one ratio and $5,000,000 in funds to create jobs and economic growth by lending to or investing in small businesses with the potential for significant growth and strong job creation?”
The one-question referendum, which will be held statewide on Tuesday, June 13, asks voters to borrow $50,000,000, with the bulk of the funds going to the Maine Technology Institute and a lesser amount to the Small Enterprise Growth Fund.
For MTI, the monies will be used for “investment in research, development and commercialization in the State’s 7 targeted technology sectors to be used for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades that enable organizations to gain and hold market share and to expand employment or preserve jobs.” According to the documentation provided by the Secretary of State’s office, the seven targeted technology sectors include “biotechnology, aquaculture and marine technology, composite materials technology, environmental technology, advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture, information technology, and precision manufacturing technology” and would be awarded through a competitive process with required matching funds.
Five million dollars is also earmarked for the Small Enterprise Growth Fund, which is administered by the Finance Authority of Maine and will be used to invest in business that “demonstrate the potential for high-growth and public benefit.”
Businesses with 50 or fewer employees, specifically in businesses involved in “marine sciences, biotechnology, manufacturing, export of goods or services out of state or that result in significant amounts of capital being imported into the State, software development, environmental services or technologies, financial or insurance products or services, value-added goods from natural resources, and any other enterprises found to meet the purposes and intent of the program” would be considered eligible.
According to the state treasurer’s office the “total estimated life time cost is $63,750,000 representing $50,000,000 in principal and $13,750,000 in interest (assuming interest at 5.00% over 10 years).”
No public comments were filed in support or in opposition to Question 1.
Polls are open from 8 am. to 8 p.m. in all towns.