To the Editor:
When I became Governor, Maine DOT Commissioner Dave Bernhardt laid out an ambitious vision for the International Marine Terminal (IMT). Our administration secured investments that would transform the IMT back into a bustling, multi-modal freight facility.
By 2013, federal, state and private investments in the port led to Eimskip’s decision to make Maine its North American headquarters, positioning our state for a new era in the global shipping industry.
The new International Marine Terminal has opened countless new trade and economic development opportunities in the Arctic and the North Atlantic for Maine businesses.
Business through the port has increased steadily over the last five years. The business growth prompted Eimskip to increase ship calls to Maine by more than 40 percent.
This shipping connection has led to even more innovation: the Maine Beer Box. The Beer Box is a refrigerated shipping container that highlights our craft beer industry. It has 78 beer taps and a fully contained draft system made by two Maine companies.
This idea started right here in Maine, between the Maine Brewers’ Guild and Eimskip. The Beer Box is filled with craft beer from our brewers and sent to another country to market them. The Beer Box is then filled with beer from that country and sent back here where it will be shared with craft beer lovers.
This is part goodwill trade mission, part economic development and part marketing of Maine as the top craft beer destination in the United States.
In 2017, the Maine Brewers’ Guild joined forces with Eimskip to take Maine’s craft beers to Iceland. This first exchange provided our brewers the opportunity to explore new markets, collaborate with fellow brewers and establish relationships overseas.
Last week, the Beer Box participated in the 2018 Global Brewers’ Trade event at the Leeds International Beer Festival in the United Kingdom with beer from more than 60 of Maine’s breweries.
The festival is one of the highlights of our UK and Ireland trade mission this month, where we are developing new markets for our lobster, forest products and other industries — all made possible in part by our new shipping capacity.
For decades, businesses looked at Maine as too far from markets in terms of miles. But investments in our shipping infrastructure have reduced the cost for Maine businesses to reach those markets.
This has opened new opportunities for Maine businesses, like our brewers. It can cost the same or less to ship beer to another country than it can to travel by truck to Florida.
Maine businesses now have access to North Atlantic and European markets that were once cost-prohibitive and out of reach. This is bringing more job opportunities to our state. Smart investments in infrastructure pay off.
Note: The above is the text of a radio address delivered Sept. 19.
Paul R. LePage
Governor of Maine