Maine turns gaze towards foreign markets to keep recovery alive

Governor John E. Baldacci unveiled a new Foreign Direct Investment initiative at the 30th Maine International Trade Day event held at the Samoset Resort earlier this month. The governor hopes that by pushing green exports to Europe, the state can build off successful efforts in 2009.

The initiative will focus on increasing investments in Maine’s renewable energy and advanced materials fields, as well as enhancing Maine’s capacity to be a center of excellence in wind energy, composites and advanced materials. The initiative hopes to attract investments in business and R&D, to bolster the state’s export economy and university programs.

“We have an exciting opportunity in Maine to build on our core strengths in the renewable energy and composites technologies sectors,” said Governor Baldacci. “The trade mission I led last year to Germany and Spain emphasized and reinforced that Maine as a desirable place to invest in the energy sector. Europe showed a lot of interest in Maine in these fields, and several investment groups have visited Maine since last September as a result of the mission. The Direct Foreign Investment initiative builds on this momentum.”

The Maine International Trade Center (MITC) will manage the program, which will include:

  • Increasing outreach in international markets through trade shows, trade missions and investment seminars in targeted areas;
  • Developing international relationships in the renewable and advanced materials areas; and
  • Hiring a Foreign Investment Attaché to work on targeted markets in Europe and Asia to bring foreign investment and joint ventures into the State of Maine.

Maine, like other states, saw a decrease in trade during 2009. Overall figures showed $2.2 billion in export, a loss of 24% coming off of four years of steady growth. 2010 looks to be better with initial figures up 20% in the first quarter. Currently paper, pulp and semiconductors drive export in Maine but the state hopes to diversify its export base going forward.

In 2009, $148 billion was invested in the U.S. by foreign companies, and 5.5 million American workers are employed by foreign firms. In Maine, more than 24,000 workers are employed by foreign companies, with $6.2 billion invested in property and equipment.

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