Creating jobs is essential to restoring the economic hopes of Maine people, and it has been my No. 1 priority during my service in the Legislature.

In order to have a successful and thriving workforce, Maine needs to support its innovative small and medium-sized businesses. As a small business owner, I understand Maine’s strong entrepreneurial tradition.

The Legislature’s Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, on which I serve, recently approved a bipartisan bond package proposal to stimulate Maine’s economy and job growth. This proposal is part of a comprehensive strategic plan to improve Maine’s workforce and grow our economy, and is the culmination of an eight-month process that included in-depth conversations with business leaders and economic experts.

The bond package targets businesses that are poised to create good-paying jobs, specifically jobs in microbiology, marine resources and technology, to expand these vital sectors.

Maine ranks close to last in the nation for private-sector job growth. Making these critical investments now will strengthen our economy, while attracting and keeping young people who work and live in Maine.

This investment will recapitalize programs that already have proven successful for job creation and will provide worthy companies with vital support at a critical stage of their growth, so they can create much-needed jobs in our state.

The $73 million bond package includes $5 million for the Finance Authority of Maine Commercial Loan Insurance Program and $15 million for the FAME Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Program.

The money invested in the FAME Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Program would be used for flexible loans to create a projected 8,550 jobs that would revitalize our downtowns, such as my city of Gardiner, and strengthen Maine’s rural economy.

In 2012, through these two loan programs, 810 jobs were created in Maine and 3,903 jobs were retained. Investing more money in FAME’s programs will create more jobs and help move Maine’s economy forward.

The bond package also provides $15 million in funding to Jackson Laboratory for a new biometric analysis lab, which will be matched with $16 million in private and public contributions. Jackson Laboratory already employs 1,282 Maine people and another 295 jobs will be created under this proposal.

Investing in this new lab and using state-of-the-art technologies to expand the state’s research capabilities in the area of medical analytics will put Maine in a unique position as a global resource for precision medicine. Projects such as this will improve Maine’s capacity to attract and retain young professionals and facilitate additional grant funding, private sector investment, job growth and economic activity.

The bond package is now awaiting review from the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

As Maine’s economy struggles to recover, we must make strategic investments now to grow our economy and create quality, sustainable jobs for our citizens.

Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, is serving her first term in the Maine House of Representatives. She represents Gardiner and Randolph and serves on the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future and the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.