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TBED Financing Included in Proposed Maine Bond Issue

February 27, 2004

Advanced research grants and equity financing are just two items slated for funding in Maine Gov. John Baldacci's $120 million revenue bond package, unveiled last week. The tech-based economic development (TBED) items would receive a combined $7 million in funding. The largest portion of the governor's package, $65 million, is dedicated to land conservation and parks. Other elements address housing, health and environmental issues.

For Maine's business and research community, highlights include:

  • $5 million for Applied Research Fund competitive grants for applied research in natural resource-based industries, including forest bio-products, marine research, aquaculture, farming, and fishing. Administered by the Maine Technology Institute, the funds would be used to support development of new products, improved management practices and new technologies. The state funding is expected to leverage an additional $5 million in federal, private and other nonpublic support.
  • $2 million for the Small Enterprise Growth Fund for equity investments of up to $500,000 in small Maine companies with potential for high growth in targeted technology areas. To date, the Finance Authority of Maine has used the fund to invest more than $7 million in promising Maine companies.

An additional $2 million is included for improvements to the State Research Library for Business, Science, and Technology at the University of Maine.

The use of revenue bonds for financing much of the state's investment in science and technology has been the preferred strategy in Maine for many years. Since the first $20 million package was approved in 1998, Mainers have passed three referenda providing at least $108 million for R&D and other economic development initiatives. The most recent funding injection was $60 million supported by more than 60 percent of the voters in a special election last June.

If approved by two-thirds of the Maine State Legislature, the governor's new proposal will be considered during the November election. More information is available under "Headlines" at: http://www.maine.gov/governor/baldacci/index.shtml