Charles Hastings

  • Manufacturing Economy Can Work if done Right

    I believe that the Katahdin region needs to find another manufacturing based employer who can capitalize on the lower land costs, loyal workforce and connectivity to the global economy. Remember that the region is linked by rail directly to Montreal and Searsport via the CMQ Railway... also by NB Southern to nearby Saint John and via interchange to other points west. Also, the proximity to i95 corridor is also a key strength. I believe that economic leaders should approach companies who are announcing new manufacturing centers, either through re-shoring from foreign lands or growth of existing corporations. The sell needs to be affordable and dedicated labor with tax and trade incentives. The region must be willing to take some risks in terms of giving out tax breaks/credits as well as investing in infrastructure in a 'build it and they will come' situation. At this point, you need to bet the farm or there won't be a farm. I would even seek out help from westward expanding empires such as Irving, who already has a large presence in the region through it's transportation and forest sectors. Any sort of cutting edge tech or industrial manufacturing (vehicles of some kind or other large scale) should be sought out. In order to do this, you must be willing to send representatives on grass-roots campaigns to very targeted tradeshows, conferences and networking events. The passive, pull-style marketing won't be enough, the Katahdin region has to actually send people out into other states or countries on trade missions to stimulate growth. Last advice -- building more trails and outdoor recreation in a state that is over saturated with similar luxuries will not work. You can not focus on a tourist economy when the coastlines and ski resorts have you beat. You have to capitalize on the workforce, cheap land and good infrastructure connections. Get the railroads and trucking companies involved in your efforts as they still operate in the area and promote the fast and effective transportation options to nearby large markets. If you want to grow the region, you're going to have to look outside of it and actually leave it to bring in direct foreign investment. Good luck.