2016-09-15 / Letters

Chamber director: Governor does no favors

To the editor:

For the past six years in my capacity as executive director of the Biddeford, Saco Chamber of Commerce & Industry, I have participated in one of the greatest economic resurgences of an area in generations. The Biddeford and Saco region has been brought to life by wise local investment from hard working individuals who saw the area for what it could become not what it was believed to be. No longer are we a has been mill town. Instead, we are the booming economic generator for York County. We have witnessed more than $200 million of investment to fund this resurgence. And much of it is due to changing the message. When an area can sing its own praise, promote its natural attributes and show entrepreneurs that our location is like that found nowhere else in the world-the progress begins. The positive messaging works and we are committed to it.

Long term actions and recent negative comments delivered by our governor can stop prosperity in its tracks. These words were recently captured in an Associated Press story that was published nationwide.

I have been contacted by friends and colleagues from Maine to Iowa to California and back to Illinois asking if our governor is for real? I watched Twitter blow up my phone with the handle, “#boycottMaine,” and people calling us racists. Yes, they called us, the residents of Maine racists not just the governor. Is this how we want to be known? Is this the fertile field we all have been planting for investment only to have it destroyed?

Tourism depends on people’s mindset and perception. If you were to travel anywhere in the world and mention you are from Maine, people’s faces light up and often you hear “we love Maine.” It is this positive perception that gets visitors here to stay and enjoy all we have to offer. But because of the governor’s words, that messaging is now-oh that’s where that crazy governor is from.

Having Maine depicted as a racist state with an unstable governor doesn’t encourage economic development. Businesses need stability and assurances that there is strong potential that they will benefit from their investment. With the governor spewing obscenities over the phone and making international news with his actions, I firmly believe that he has cost the businesses of Maine significant revenue and worse, damaged the good name of Maine citizens. Time will tell the extent of the damage done. Craig Pendleton, executive director Biddeford, Saco Chamber of Commerce & Industry

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