The Economic Development Bond that was voted on last week, passed.

Despite predictably low voter turnout, last week on June 13, Question #1 - The Economic Development Bond passed and was later signed into law.

The $50 million bond issue for supports economic development by funding research and development organizations in Maine.  The majority of the funding, $45 million, would be managed by the Maine Technology Institute (MTI), and be available for loans and grants by startups and innovative enterprises in the state. Anyone who's been through this process of applying for MTI grants (which Big Room has done a number of times alongside startup clients) knows it's a highly competitive process.

We're looking forward to seeing what will happen when investments are made into infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades that are designed to increase productivity, capacity, or scale potential for local companies. The funding supports seven targeted sectors including aquaculture, forestry, agriculture and composite materials.  The loans, grants and investments from the Fund would have to be matched on at least a one-to-one basis with corporate, federal, non-profit or other funds.

The remaining $5 million in the bond package would be invested through the Maine Venture Fund, a twenty year old revolving State venture fund, in early stage companies with the potential to scale and significantly contribute to Maine’s prosperity.  These investments would also need to be matched at least 1:1, though MVF’s experience has been an almost 9:1 match.

The bond had wide support in the Legislature, passing 138-10 in the House of Representatives, and almost unanimously in the Senate after testimony from a wide swath of workers and corporate, academic, and non-profit institutions that understand that Maine must increase its investment in R&D if it is to stay competitive.

Gov. Paul LePage signed it into law contingent on the June 13 election.

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