Growing up in a family of six kids, the son of a millworker and a homemaker in rural Maine, we had to get creative with what we had, and we always had to work together to get ahead. But we were proud of where we came from.

Those principles are familiar to many Maine families, but too often they are absent from our debates about public issues. It doesn’t have to be that way.

For my entire career, I have worked to bring people together to make the most of what we have here in Maine.

We can have economic growth and a clean environment. We can have thriving businesses and well-paid employees. With the right ideas, we can move Maine forward, together.

Those principles, and my unshakeable belief in the people of this state, are at the heart of my new “Maine Made” business and investment plan, which you can find on my website at www.Michaud2014.com/MaineMade.

Maine Made is based on a critical assessment of Maine’s current economic opportunities. It draws on programs that already show promise in our state; it is informed by Maine’s history, but it is decidedly forward-looking.

My plan is focused on six areas where Maine is poised for growth that will help us out-compete other states: Small businesses, talented workers, farms and fisheries, tourism, renewable energy and strong communities. For each area, Maine Made includes ideas that could transform Maine’s economy into a growing, vibrant place with good-paying jobs for Maine people.

• It will strengthen our business sector by helping Maine-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs connect with new markets beyond our border and create new jobs.

• It ensures that, as those small businesses look to expand and grow, they will have an exceptionally talented Maine workforce to hire by lowering the cost of college tuition, investing in early childhood and pre-K education and increasing the capacity for our community colleges.

• It will create a stronger economy where Maine’s farms and fisheries are the “food basket” of New England — creating jobs, reclaiming underutilized land, invigorating communities and providing healthy, affordable foods to residents of Maine and beyond.

• It will strengthen our tourism sector by making Maine a world-class destination, with compelling recreational and cultural experiences that inspire visitors to become lifelong consumers of Maine products.

• It will build on Maine’s already growing renewable energy sector by attracting billions of dollars in private-sector investments for renewable energy and efficiency programs so we can create jobs and drive down energy costs for Maine businesses and consumers.

• Most importantly, Maine Made will create an economy where more families can work their way into the middle class, where thousands of people have access to a family doctor and life-saving preventative care, and where we start to reverse the damaging effects of income inequality.

What Maine needs right now is a new direction based on realistic, achievable and affordable ideas.

This year, there will be a lot of debate about who has the right vision for Maine. Maine Made is the only plan that includes concrete ideas and proposals — complete with cost estimates and savings projections — that we can start implementing on Day 1 of a new administration.

It is informed by my experience tackling challenges and leveraging funds at both the state and federal level, but more importantly it is informed by hundreds of conversations I’ve had with Mainers all over the state.

This is the beginning, not the end, of a conversation I look forward to having with the people of Maine about our shared values, our strengths and the kind of home we want to create for future generations.

As I continue to tour the state and talk to Mainers in the months ahead, I will listen for the best ideas and lay out additional plans to address other important issues that matter to Maine families.

But we need to start the conversation somewhere, and it starts with a promise to invest in Maine’s future.

Maine people deserve to know their leaders have a plan to grow our economy and create jobs. Maine businesses deserve an economic development strategy that is just as ambitious, focused and disciplined as they are. Maine workers deserve an economy that works for everyone, an education system that provides students with the tools for success and a leader with a vision that puts working families first.

And we all deserve an economy that’s made right here in Maine.

U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, D-2nd District, is the Democratic candidate for Maine governor.