An independent analysis of state investments in economic development and research and development was completed recently in accordance with Maine statute. The reports were compiled by Investment Consulting Associates (ICA) following the company's contract award by the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development last June.

The biennial progress reports provide an assessment of the effectiveness of Maine's economic development programs and an analysis of the success of the state's investments in research and development. The reports were generated through a survey of recipients of Maine economic development programs and through in-person interviews with businesses and stakeholders. ICA also collected reports, data and other information from stakeholders and state agencies when available. The progress report includes recommendations to improve the evaluation process going forward, as well as insights into which programs provide a good return on investment based on ICA's cost-benefit analysis.

ICA worked with a Steering Committee of individuals from the private and public sectors in Maine. The committee included State Senators Emily Cain and Andre Cushing, Peter DelGreco of Maine & Company, George Gervais and Brian Whitney of the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, Steve Levesque from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, Bob Martin from the Maine Technology Institute, Jake Ward from the University of Maine, and Luann Ballesteros from Jackson Laboratory.

Among its findings in the two reports: ICA's cost-benefit analysis concluded that the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement (BETR) program is a worthy investment of state funds; that the Pine Tree Development Zone (PTDZ) program demonstrates the importance of competitive tax policy for new and growing companies, leading to the creation and/or retention of nearly 10,000 jobs that could have landed in other states; and the Maine Technology Institute's Development Fund Loan program and the Finance Authority of Maine's Commercial Loan Insurance and Economic Recovery Loan programs generate a consistently high rate of return on investment.

"Over the past six months, our team invited 1,500 Maine business to participate in a detailed survey, reviewed 60 different incentive programs, interviewed elected officials, administrators, and other public sector individuals to better understand the numerous incentive programs, and conducted 53 interviews across 35 different companies and organizations that included various stakeholders, policymakers and companies within the State of Maine," said ICA President Chris Steele. "These exchanges provided the foundation for our evaluations and informed our analysis and recommendations."

In accordance with its contract, ICA is also responsible for completing a one-time overall evaluation of the state's investments based on the results of its recently submitted assessments. That report, due no later than June 30, 2014, will assess how effective the state's economic development strategies have been in stimulating and sustaining consistent, competitive growth in Maine's economy compared to other states nationally. It will also report on whether or not the state is missing opportunities to provide incentives to some business sectors while potentially over-subsidizing others.