Spring 2014

Maine Track as a Model

Keeping young people in the state could draw on the Tufts example

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Gov. Paul LePage, at left in pink shirt, talks with students from Bowdoin College in the State Dining Room last December. The governor had invited the students to discuss how to attract young people to Maine and keep them there. Photo: Mario Moretto/BDN Maine

Our lobster-rich neighbor to the north has a demographic problem. According to data from the Maine State Planning Office, the state’s share of citizens ages 20 to 59 is projected to shrink over the next 15 years, while its population of residents between 60 and 79 continues to grow, the Bangor Daily News reports. “When you live in a state where more people are dying than being born, that’s not sustainable, and it scares me,” Gov. Paul LePage told the newspaper in an interview at the Blaine House mansion, where a group of students from Bowdoin College gathered in December to kick around some ideas for reversing the trend.

It was a free and open discussion. One 20-year-old student from Madawaska, Maine, said he thought the state should come up with some ways to help young people with their student debt, as well as provide more plentiful internship and training opportunities. “If I had a choice to stay in Maine or go to Massachusetts, I’d choose Maine every time,” he said. “But I can’t.”

Another student, Zachary Morrison, was quoted in the story saying he’d like to see more programs such as Maine Track, the partnership launched between Tufts Medical School and Maine Medical Center in the fall of 2009 that offers half-tuition deals to qualified Maine natives who plan to establish practices in the state once their training is complete. That rang a bell for LePage, who said he admired the program because of how it kept young people connected to the state; the governor pointed out there might be ways to expand on the program in disciplines other than medicine.

“If you’re going to work in Maine five years, we’ll write off X number of college credits,” he suggested, plainly thinking aloud. “So you can literally get the credits for free, but you’ve got to give back to the state. I really like that model.”

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