Looking for a young, hip professional who might think about moving to Maine for a job?

Try the local bar.

Even better, try the bar on Thanksgiving weekend, when it is sure to be filled with kids home from college or out-of-state jobs, as they take a break from visiting with family to catch up with friends.

At least that’s what Live and Work in Maine thinks. The workforce attraction program is trying its first “boomerang weekend” this year.

Free branded T-shirts, stickers, postcards, 12-oz. cups and can coolers will be handed out in about two dozen restaurants, breweries, bars and hotels to spread the message to potential “boomerangs” – young Mainers living out of state who might consider moving back.

If you want to reach those people, Thanksgiving weekend is the best time to do it, said Nate Wildes, engagement director at Live and Work in Maine and co-founder of Flight Deck Brewing in Brunswick.

“When they come home, it is the most popular informal reunion time. Everyone is back in their hometown,” Wildes said. “They are already sold on the ethos and the brand of Maine. What we have to do is connect them with a practical avenue to get back – and that is a job.”

THE BUSIEST TIMES IN THE PUB

Nationally, bar and alcohol sales spike so much on the night before Thanksgiving that it has earned the monikers “Blackout Wednesday,” “Thanksgiving Eve” and “Drinksgiving.”

“Believe it or not, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights are some of the busiest (times) in the pub” during Thanksgiving week, said Thomas Wilson, marketing director for Gritty McDuff’s, a Maine brewpub with locations in Portland, Freeport and Auburn. The Portland location will be passing out Live and Work in Maine stuff to patrons all weekend, Wilson said.

“It gets really busy,” he said. “Everyone is in a holiday mood, everyone has a great time.”

Live and Work in Maine started two years ago as an effort to recruit young people to Maine in the face of daunting demographic shifts. It maintains a website that describes various parts of the state and profiles a multitude of companies, as well as postings on prime jobs. A quick perusal of the website Tuesday showed openings for a neurosurgeon, a public relations director and a senior IT specialist, among others.

The program initially tried to entice tourists to move to the state permanently by highlighting the quality of life and career opportunities at travel plazas and tourist destinations.

SUSTAINED LOW UNEMPLOYMENT

But as Maine, the state with the oldest median age, grapples with the fact that more people are retiring than entering the workforce, Live and Work is reaching out to specific in-demand professionals and people who grew up in Maine and moved away. The effort is especially crucial, given that Maine just notched its 35th consecutive month of unemployment below 4 percent.

Recruiting departments for major companies in Maine have said it is easier to persuade candidates with connections here to relocate than to persuade people who have never visited. The promotion’s success will be gauged by feedback from its partners and hits on the campaign website and social media, Wildes said.

“This isn’t just about getting people at the bar,” he said, “it is about getting the social message and the social pressure for people to think seriously about it.”

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

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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