Almost three years ago, Live and Work in Maine started a campaign to convince tourists that the state was a place to move to for a career.

Now, the group believes it has a winning strategy to launch an aggressive campaign designed to bring people into the state, fill empty professional jobs and help balance the population in the oldest U.S. state. But to do so, it needs support from industry, state government and Maine citizens, said Nate Wildes, engagement director at Live and Work in Maine.

“We need to amplify the effort to take it seriously,” Wildes said.

The initiative, a partnership between private employers and the state’s economic development agency, has a three-pronged strategy to boost its marketing. It plans more mass-media campaigns to advertise Maine as a place for careers and a niche campaign aimed at workers in specific industries.

“Instead of self-selecting, we are going to target people we know we need,” he said.

The program also wants to “deputize” companies and private citizens to market the state for its quality of life and its job opportunities. Everyone involved has to be working off the same script to highlight what the state has to offer, Wildes said.

The group plans to pitch its updated strategy at an event for partners at Thompson’s Point in Portland on Friday.

Workforce development is a key issue for many businesses in Maine struggling to find enough workers to keep growing. The labor shortage is acute across all industries, including a growing high-tech cluster around Portland that is in an international competition for talent.

As it turns out, convincing people to move to the state is harder than it seems. Despite a high quality of life, low crime rate and low housing costs, professionals in other states don’t consider Maine a good place to relocate because it is seen as too cold and remote, according to a state-commissioned survey released this year.

To change that perception, everyone needs to coordinate to start pitching a positive story about the state. The “woe is us” tale often drowns out the many good reasons people live and make careers here, Wildes said. “We need to change the conversation about Maine,” he said.

Making that change will take more resources, both in funding and personal investment, Wildes said.

Considering the need, it is encouraging workforce issues have been at the forefront of the economic debate in the campaign to be Maine’s next governor, he said.

“There will be more resources and a more concerted effort next year,” he said. “If state government doesn’t step up, then the private sector will.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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