What is the Maine Economic Research Institute?
The Maine Economic Research Institute (MERI) is a nonpartisan, independent, not-for-profit organization formed to conduct research, analysis, and reporting on economic issues. MERI’s methodology, a tested model operating in 23 states across the country—some for more than 25 years—is rooted in the basic business concepts of accountability and performance review. A particular focus for MERI is how state policies affect Maine’s economy.
Who leads MERI and what is their political affiliation?
MERI’s Board of Directors is comprised of Maine business leaders who are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and those unaffiliated with any political party. MERI’s Advisory Committee has the same range of political interests. Both the Board and the Advisory Committee were formed with broad political diversity by design to keep the organization focused on Maine’s economy and away from partisan issues. It works. MERI is committed to a healthy economy and quality jobs—period.
What size Maine employers does MERI’s work represent?
MERI works diligently to represent all Maine employers on key economic issues. Small, family-owned, businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy and thus are vital to MERI’s mission. MERI’s Board of Directors is comprised of approximately 1/3 small, family-owned and run Maine businesses (1-50 employees); 1/3 are large Maine businesses (200+ employees); and the balance, 1/3 are medium sized Maine businesses (51-199 employees). MERI supports itself through subscribers to its data; 63% of subscribers have 50 or fewer full-time employees; add in those with less than 100 employees and the percentage rises to 67%. The data collected for MERI’s most recent Senior Management Survey unmistakably represents small Maine businesses: 14% of the participants employed 5 or fewer; 28% 6-20 employees; 25% 21-50 employees; 13% 51-99 employees; 19% 100-1000 employees; and 1% over 1,000 employees. MERI’s goal is a strong economy and it’s clear that to achieve that goal it will take state policies that support an environment for success--for all Maine employers, regardless of size.
What kind of legislation does MERI track?
MERI has reported on the economic performance of the 119th, 120th , 121st, 122nd, and is currently working on the 123rd, Maine State Legislatures. More than 230 legislative roll call votes impacting Maine's economy were used in the rating process. These bills include such critical economic issues as education initiatives, tax policies, cost of doing business in Maine, economic development, healthcare, transportation, and more.
How does MERI select the kind of legislation it tracks?
The selection of legislation is driven by what Maine employers say is critical to their success, their ability to create opportunity for Maine citizens (jobs), and what is fundamental to Maine’s economy. One major source of direction for selecting legislation is a 2005 scientific survey in which 531 Maine employers participated. The MERI Senior Management Survey is conducted every two years and the 1999, 2002 and 2005 reports are posted on this website. Sixty-seven percent of these companies have 50 or fewer employees clearly making this survey representative of small, often family-owned and family-run Maine companies. Who knows better than these folks about how state policies affect the creation of jobs?
Who picks the specific legislation MERI tracks?
Specific legislation relating to economic issues is identified by MERI’s Advisory Committee and selected by MERI’s Board of Directors based on what Maine employers say is critical to their success. The legislation is tracked using voting information on the public record. MERI takes no position on the legislation itself, merely tracks its course through the Legislature.
Does MERI lobby?
No. MERI is not a lobbying organization. Its research is non-partisan and objective, based on careful surveys of Maine business leaders and the public. These surveys establish what issues are important to Maine employers and voters.
What is MERI’s message?
MERI’s message is all about our economy. Take a hard look at Maine’s economy. Why are our per capita incomes the lowest in New England; why are our young people leaving the state at a rate more than four times the national average; and, why are our taxes amongst the highest relative to other states. We have all seen these reports and more; Maine has been rated at the bottom of the economic pile for far too long. Part of the answer to the questions above is the state policies our representatives create in Augusta. Too many of these policies, for too long, have hurt rather than helped Maine’s economy. Maine business people have overwhelmingly expressed their dissatisfaction with this condition (2005 SMS). MERI subscribers utilize the objective research and analysis of the Maine Economic Research Institute to communicate their dissatisfaction to legislators and hold them accountable for their votes.
Contact MERI at (207)-622-9075 or email