AUGUSTA — Five local lawmakers will serve on a new legislative committee designed to spark growth in the Maine economy.

Democrats on Wednesday announced the members of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, and Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, will serve as chairmen; and Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta; Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay and Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, will be among the 15 panel members.

“We know Maine small businesses need a healthy, stable business climate in order to hire, invest and expand,” Berry said in a statement. “The committee will explore specific ways to lower small businesses’ costs and help them compete in today’s economy.”

In Maine, 95 percent of all businesses employ fewer than 50 people.

Katz said he’s hoping the committee will focus on finding ways to train better workers for the current job market.

“One primary mission is how we can best connect the dots between available good paying jobs and educational resources in K-12 and higher education,” he said.

Two years ago, Republicans in the Legislature formed a similar committee that focused on reducing red tape for businesses. Katz said he’s heard from businesses that they appreciate faster response from government and more predictable regulations that resulted from the law changes that came about as a result of the committee.

Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, said she expects downtown revitalization to be a big part of the committee discussion. She said Gardiner is a good example of a community that has focused on its downtown.

“Gardiner is beginning to reinvent itself, and it’s been noticed,” she said.

The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Monday, when the group will be briefed by economists and industry leaders, according to the Office of the Senate President.

Susan Cover — 621-5643
[email protected]