People don’t consider Maine a good place to relocate to because it is seen as too cold and remote, according to a state commission survey. Three years ago, Live and Work in Maine started a campaign to convince tourists that Maine is a great place to move to for a career.

Clearly they have a long way to go to get people to move to Maine. I do like their new plan, which includes mass media campaigns aimed at workers in a specific industries. They also plan to “deputize” companies and private citizens to market the state for its quality of life and job opportunities.

Well, please consider me Deputy George. And I will focus on the quality of life. Live and Work in Maine thinks we need to coordinate positive stories about the state and “change the conversation about Maine.”

I’ll begin with winter. Perhaps these people from away don’t realize how much fun winter can be. Do they like to ski, snowshoe, or ride snowmobiles? Do they have kids who would love to build snowmen and forts? And, OK, we promise not to throw snowballs at them. The snow-covered woods and fields of Maine are truly beautiful.

Let’s just not tell them about shoveling.

Sure, a bunch of Maine residents spend the winter in states like Florida and Arizona, so that’s always an option if you don’t really enjoy our wonderful winters.

And what about fall? Are people from away aware of how beautiful Maine is in the fall? Many spend a lot of money to take a driving tour through our western towns to enjoy the colorful trees. We get to enjoy that beauty for at least a month every year for free.

Are they looking for more friends and a caring community? Well, we have them all over the state. From our small-town libraries to our community breakfasts and other events, we are busy.

Our small towns are also wonderful places for children, who can play outside without being afraid. It astonishes me that in some places parents have been arrested for letting their kids walk home from school. It’s time for those folks to move to Maine.

When our kids were growing up in Mount Vernon, one of our most popular annual events was when the cows came out at the Hall farm. After spending the winter in the barn, these cows jumped and danced, butted heads and frolicked all over the place. So many people turned out to see it that the Halls had to put up bleachers.

OK, Deputy George is going to be all about rural Maine. Sorry, Portland, but my Maine is centered in our small rural communities, which offer so much to people from away. We have had a number of our summer people in Mount Vernon end up as full-time residents. Yes, once you settle here, it’s very difficult to leave.

Maine is definitely not remote. For Pete’s sake, Fenway Park is less than three hours from my house. And beautiful cities like Montréal and Québec are not far either. My wife Linda and I would sometimes take our kids to Disney World in Florida for school vacation week and I could drive there in 28 hours. And you can get any place in the world by starting out at our airports in Portland and Bangor. But truthfully, it’s not a problem that some of these places are a bit of a trip away.

Do these people like the coast? Well, we’ve got 3,478 miles of beautiful coastline. And perhaps they’d enjoy our 6,000 lakes and ponds.

Mainers are now wringing their hands over the fact that we are old. They’re worried about everything from our bond rating to our lack of workers (even though we are working at much older ages).

I am wondering how places like southeast Arizona are getting by, with very large populations of retired people. Perhaps we could learn something from them.

Phil Harriman, a former state legislator and current chairman of the Maine Municipal Bond Bank board, is worried that people who can, will leave Maine, and the people who can’t, will stay.

I disagree with that thinking. Many of us could never live anywhere else but Maine. And we should be looking for people who understand and value the things that we value here in Maine. We are starting to see more young people stay in or move to Maine.

I am not saying there isn’t a lot we could do to attract people to Maine and to make life better for all of us, from tax reforms to strategies that save our rural schools and medical centers.

But every state faces challenges, so let’s all step it up and make sure that our summer tourists and other people from away know how very special it is to live and work in Maine. Please join me and become a deputy for Maine.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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