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Maine Development Foundation

Press Release

Measures of Growth 2017 Report: Maine Gets ‘Gold Star’ for Air and Water Quality, International Exports; ‘Red Flag’ for R&D Expenditures, Transportation Infrastructure, Working Age Population and Key Education Benchmarks

Annual report assesses economic indicators related to Maine’s business climate, workforce, health and wellness, civic assets and the environment


April 25th, 2017

AUGUSTA, ME — The Maine Economic Growth Council presented Measures of Growth 2017 to the Maine Legislature and Governor Paul R. LePage’s Administration today. This annual report tracks Maine’s performance on fundamental economic indicators and the key leverage points that move the state toward the Maine Economic Growth Council’s vision of a high quality of life for all Maine people. 

The report highlights three indicators that received Gold Stars for exceptional performance:  International Exports, Air Quality, and Water Quality. Achievements in these three areas include:

Maine’s international exports grew by almost 5% from 2015 to 2016, while U.S. exports declined by over 3% during the same period.
The water quality of Maine rivers and streams remains far above U.S. averages.
The number and severity of unhealthy air quality days have declined dramatically in recent decades.

Red Flags, emphasizing a need for particular attention, were assigned to Research and Development (R&D) Expenditures, Fourth Grade Reading Scores,  Postsecondary Educational Attainment, Working Age Population, and Transportation Infrastructure. Specifically: 

Maine continues to spend only about 1% of its total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on R&D, which ranks the state 37th nationally.
Just over one-third - 36% - of all Maine fourth graders tested at “proficient or above” reading levels in 2015, compared to 43% in New England.
Maine’s postsecondary degree attainment rate continues to grow but trails New England’s average.
Maine’s working age population (ages 18-64) is declining, with further decreases projected for the future.
The percentage of major roads, which carry 70% of passenger and freight traffic in the state, meeting “fair or better” standards is falling short of expectations.

Overall, four indicators (Per Capita Personal Income, Employment, International Exports, and Broadband Connectivity) made progress relative to their benchmarks, five lost ground, and sixteen saw no significant movement.

“The Measures of Growth annual report provides valuable information about our state: what we’re getting right and what changes are needed to move Maine’s economy forward.  As policy makers, we rely on objective and comparative data to help inform our work,” said Senator Andre Cushing III, Co-chair of the Maine Economic Growth Council. 

The Maine Economic Growth Council, administered by the Maine Development Foundation (MDF), was established by statute in 1993.  Council members are jointly appointed by the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House, and represent a broad and diverse cross-section of Maine’s key constituencies.  

“Members of the Growth Council represent diverse interests in the economy and include business owners like me, as well as educators, labor leaders, state legislators and Maine people working to build communities and protect the environment. We take a nonpartisan and research-driven approach to develop the Measures of Growth report each year,” said Stephen Von Vogt, President and CEO of Maine Marine Composites and Co-chair of the Maine Economic Growth Council. 

Pending legislation would provide funding for the Maine Economic Growth Council to fulfill its original mandate to go beyond economic tracking and develop a long-range economic improvement strategy for the state.

“More than two decades of tracking key economic indicators has allowed us to understand the trends and what Maine needs to achieve a vibrant and sustainable economy. The Maine Economic Growth Council is ready to take the next crucial step by developing a strategic plan to get us there,” said Senator Cushing. 

“The Maine Economic Growth Council’s vision of a high quality of life for all Maine people is the foundation of our work at MDF.  Understanding Maine’s economy requires both brutal honesty and unquenchable optimism, and both can be found in the Measures of Growth 2017 report.” said Yellow Light Breen, President and CEO of Maine Development Foundation. 

A video broadcast of the Measures of Growth 2017 announcement is available at: 

About the Maine Development Foundation 
Created in statute in 1978, the Maine Development Foundation (MDF) is a private, non-partisan membership organization that drives sustainable, long-term economic growth for the State of Maine. MDF stimulates new ideas, develops leaders, and provides common ground for solving problems and advancing issues by empowering leaders; strengthening communities; and guiding public policy with trusted economic research. To learn more about MDF, visit 


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