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LETTER: AVCOG supports federal “earmarks”

To the Editor:

Federal directed appropriations (“earmarks”) are much in the news these days. Some consider earmarks a waste of money for useless pet projects, and others consider them an important and useful tool to accomplish specific objectives that will enhance and grow regional economies.

Speaking as the president of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, I consider some of them as a vital private sector job development tools that support local and regional efforts that sustain local and regional economies.

In Lewiston, we will begin to see the impact of a recently approved 2010 earmark. This appropriation, supported by the entire congressional delegation, will launch a critically important downtown riverfront planning process that will determine the direction of this vital development area for generations to come.

I understand that there is a need to reflect on the process of earmarking the federal budget and to do all that is possible to eliminate wasteful federal spending. I also believe that Senator Collins’s vote to oppose Senator’s Coburn’s decision was appropriate, given that it would have eliminated $120 million in funding, directly impacting AVCOG’s small business initiatives and other infrastructure which supports Maine business.

The scope of this amendment, in my opinion, would have been well beyond the scope of what was originally discussed as part of the Republican Conference’s two-year moratorium supported by Senator Collins and Senator Snowe—something that did not include FY11 appropriations.

Maine is a state of small businesses, and some of our best opportunities for economic growth are hinged upon growing existing small businesses and the development of new small ventures. AVCOG is working with other regional service providers and Senator Collins on a project that is based on a very successful pilot project carried out in 2006 by KVCOG.

The project will assist companies in economically hard hit regions of the state. Specialized technical assistance and training that builds management skills and capacity and expanded market opportunities will be provided.

Based upon the results of the pilot project, this effort will have a positive impact on local and regional economies through private investment and job creation by working with local companies to achieve their goals. To implement this project however, a federal investment is required. The project will increase the capabilities of our businesses, add to the tax base and more importantly create jobs and a more sustainable economy.

Targeted local and regionally directed efforts to assist local and regional businesses survive and grow is common sense for our economy. This is why we support continued but judicious federal direct appropriations.

Phil Nadeau

President

Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments

Nadeau is the Deputy City Administrator for the City of Lewiston

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