Maine Needs a “Shark Tank” Mindset for Economic Growth

(image courtesy: Disney General Entertainment Content)

 

Over the years, several Maine companies have been featured on Shark Tank, the ABC show in which start-up businesses seek investment from the celebrity “Sharks.”

The formula is always the same: an entrepreneur has an idea for a product or service that he or she wants to bring to the market – or a small business he or she wants to grow.

The Sharks ask questions to figure out if investing would be a good bet or too risky to pay off. What are the sales to date? Are they profitable? How much do they know about their customers? How will they use the investment? What’s the vision for the company’s future?

They also try to gauge other information, such as how passionate, serious and committed the entrepreneur is.

Shark Tank may be a show, but it plays out in real life every day. And every day, America has 50 contestants who are competing for investments from businesses, banks, and venture capitalists. Those contestants are called “states,” and Maine is one of them.

People with money to invest in new and growing businesses look for the same type of information as the Sharks. They look at state tax structures and cost burdens. They look at workforce and skills. But they also look for vision, passion and commitment – which states are serious about economic growth, business success and job creation.

Maine’s high costs, high taxes, poor infrastructure, and shrinking workforce send the message to investors that the state is not serious about being competitive. In fact, Maine sees the 10th lowest amount of venture capital investment among all states. We’re $12 million behind Alabama – the next highest state – and is just a few million dollars ahead of Hawaii and Iowa.

Here’s the kicker: year after year, we see dozens – if not hundreds – of proposals from Maine lawmakers that would make our state even less competitive for jobs and investments. More tax increases, higher costs, more restrictions on businesses, the list goes on.

To quote the Sharks, Maine is making it far too easy for investors to say, “and for those reasons, I’m out.”

Please click here to watch AFM’s video on investment – a key ingredient to creating foundational jobs