The coronavirus has ravaged Maine’s business ecosystem with no end in sight. Businesses, schools, and organizations are opening, but with many restrictions. How do we get out of this? What is Maine’s economic plan for recovery? Today, we talk to Joshua Broder, CEO of Tilson and co-chair on Governor Mills’ economic recovery committee to see what the future will bring.
Rich: Our guest today serves as CEO of Tilson, which under his leadership has grown from less than 10 employees to more than 500 in twenty locations. He is also the founder of Tilson’s public utility affiliate, which owns 5G and other broadband infrastructure, including poles, towers, dark fiber, and neutral host indoor and outdoor wireless networks nationwide.
He cut his teeth in leadership as an army signal officer on missions in Europe, the middle East and central Asia, where he was awarded the bronze star for service in Afghanistan, designing, building, and operating the communication network for U.S. forces. Later, he led several large stimulus funded broadband and utility technology projects in Maine and around the country.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College and is a graduate of AT&T’s Operation Hand Salute. At JFK University with our certificate in entrepreneurial studies, he is currently serving as a gubernatorial appointment as the coach here of Maine’s economic recovery committee. We are very excited to be diving into Maine’s economic recovery with Joshua Broder. Josh, welcome to the show.
Joshua: Hi, thanks. Happy to be here.
Yury: Josh, in preparation for this interview I was reading a lot about you and it’s just awesome to have you on the show with us. So thank you for joining us. And without further ado, I have a couple of questions that I want to address right out the gate.
You had a distinguished military career. So, what are the most valuable skills that you gained during the service that contribute to your success at Tilson, and ultimately what was your path to becoming a CEO of this company?
Joshua: Yeah. Thanks. That’s a great question, Yury. When I think about what was impactful for my military career on my business career, the first, second, and third most important things are leadership experiences and having the opportunity to work with other people, different kinds of people from all kinds of places, in an environment where because the stakes are high, there’s a sense of accelerated team formation. And I think most of the people involved are really young. I was really young and so it was opportunity to move on to people on important missions early in my career. And I draw on that experience all the time.
I think the other thing that’s helped me is its brought perspective. So in my business, Tilson, one of our core values is composure. This is this idea that you’re going to find your way through any challenge. And the perspective sometimes that I have when I’m wrestling with the business problem is that no one has died today and we didn’t lose territory. So it brings a little perspective to the challenge we’re wrestling with.
Yury: Awesome. So can you tell us a little bit about your path to becoming a CEO of Tilson? I know that you were employee number three, but how did you get there? How’d you just start there and ultimately become a CEO?
Joshua: Yeah. So when I came to work for Tilson, I was indeed the third guy. And the founder of the company, Mike Dow, at the time it took off he took a shot with me without really any work. At the time I was with a consulting company, mostly doing big system implementation for infrastructure companies. And I think he took a risk on a young person who had moved back to Maine, who was trying to figure it out like many people have. And I managed to find work and grow the company.
When we were about, I don’t know, maybe 10 or 15 employees, the recession hit. This was October of 2008, kind of everything, ground to halt and we sort of started thinking about how to reinvent the company. And the thing that was happening at the time that there are a few trends and technology information security was becoming a thing. There were some big breaches, folks in Maine might remember that Hannaford breach once upon a time, and there was a bunch of wars still percolating, so lots and lots of defense work and some emerging stimulus.
And so we had to reorient ourselves to those things. And pretty quickly along the way I got a call from some old army buddies who said, “Hey, you need to come work with us. We’re running this company. It’s based in Switzerland and it’s owned by a U.S. company. We’re doing all kinds of important stuff around the world, U. S. government and logistics.”
And I lived in Switzerland and I had just come back to the U.S. and was pretty excited to live at home after being abroad for five years. And I really didn’t want to do it, but they kept calling me. And after about the 10th time they called, I happened to be sitting down with Mike Dow, the then owner of Tilson. And he said something to the effect of, “I’m thinking about spending some time abroad with my kids. I’d like them to pick up another language. If you hear of anything, keep me in mind.” I said, “It’s funny you should mention that, these guys called me for the 10th time and I’m not going to do it, but maybe you want to do it”.
And so long story short is he hit it off with those guys and he wound up as the CIO of this big international logistics company. And that it’s supposed to be a one year tour and turned into a five year tour. And so after five years the company was already a really different company. So somewhere early in that cycle, in those five year cycle, I wound up buying the company from them. I went to a bank and got a loan and bought them out. And at that time, the company was already in transformation from a consultancy to a company that already did sort of hand to hand combat with these big technology projects we were designing and building things and just kind of grew from there.
Yury: Wow. That’s quite a journey. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Joshua: Well it is kind of along the lines of, in the course between A and B, it’s never a straight line. And in fact I was the accidental technologist. I wasn’t even supposed to be in technology in the first place in the military, which is a whole other story, but in the same way of the business growth, you wind up being presented with opportunities and sometimes it’s really important to say yes.
Yury: Is it true that you are a self-taught engineer?
Joshua: Yeah, well, I’m not a professional engineer, but what I joke is I’m a recovering network engineer. So when I went to college I was a humanities guy. I was a history major and I went on an army ROTC scholarship and the gig was back then, if you studied hard and made your grades and got good scores and all your ROTC stuff, you could choose your assignment.
And so I was heading towards a plum assignment as a military intelligence officer in Japan, which I think was some kind of James Bond fantasy that I would be working with a bunch of spies. I don’t actually think it’s like that. It’s probably a lot more paperwork than an entry, but that’s where I was headed on September 11. And it happened the plane that hit the Pentagon hit essentially that part of the HR department of the army and the group that was meeting to sort of finalize our assignments and get all our paperwork in order, was killed in that airplane strike and I wound up graduating from college and becoming a second Lieutenant. But unusually I didn’t get my branch with any, you need flavor, your army or air, artillery or infantry, or, you know, you do some specific niche job within the army. And so I was generically assigned as an officer, but I had neither a branch nor an assignment.
And so I treaded water up at UVM for a few months, helping to train the kids, which was great duty to be full time paid guy, but living on a college campus. And when that was over, I wound up becoming a communications officer going to Germany. And in the process of all the chaos that unfolded as they tried to reorganize the administrative unit, briefly I was supposed to be an infantry guy going to New York to Fort Drum. That’s a unit that basically rotates in and out of Iraq every year, practically. And I wound up instead going to this communications unit in Germany, which also deployed all over the place. So I was accidentally a technologist. I wound up being a history major, going into Intel, to be a communications guy with a bunch of computer science oriented folks. And I wound up in Germany in a unit that their main job was to go other places and design, build, and operate communications networks.
Rich: Wow. That’s pretty impressive. I do want to bring you back to Maine though, if I can. Now you’re the co-chair here of Maine’s Economic Recovery Committee. So I’m curious, what was it like to be appointed? And what does the work look like, what’s the process when you’re putting this report together?
Joshua: Sure. So the appointment kind of really came out of the blue. I got a call from Governor Mills, and she was looking to put together this committee. And I think sort of the impetus behind that was, here we are in a crisis, it’s an emergency everybody’s running to the ball. Someday the emergency will be over and the economy will still be a wreck. And we’ll have to do the best we can to recover and get back on track for growth as a state.
So she made a pitch need that definitely planning needed to proceed in parallel. And of course I agreed to do it because if as you can imagine, we’re all feeling a little bit helpless about what’s happening around us nationally and with this pandemic. And so instead of stewing about it, it seemed like a great opportunity to be able to try and do something positive while this is going on. And I really liked the foresight that she had to do some planning and parallel knowing that everybody would be really focused on the emergency for a while, and you wouldn’t want to be caught flat footed on the backside of it.
So our initial charge was what I just described, and she also appointed, if you include the legislative delegation representative to at 40, 42 or 44, some odd people. And that group comes from all across Maine’s economy. So there’s business and nonprofit and public sector people as well as politicians and that group. Really the nice cross section of all the things that are going on in Maine. Maybe not all of the things, but all the things you can stuff into a 40 person group.
And so our initial charge was to take that longer term view at what to do during the recovery. Now as we got into it, we ourselves felt the sense of urgency of the emergency going on around us. And so we carved up our task into essentially two phases the way we defined our mission.
The first was, how do we deal with supporting and sustaining the economy? Because if the economic damage becomes permanent – this is like a talk track you’re now hearing it in the national news, this thing called ‘permanent economic damage’ – I think that’s the difference between a business getting knocked around and really being hurt, and a business going away forever and never coming back. I think that’s what they mean by ‘permanent’. And so the immediacy of knowing that there was permanent damage happening in front of us, businesses were going out, we said we have to do something to try and address that before we were in a position to even mentally move on to do that longer term planning.
And so we set ourselves about that work. And it’s very difficult to separate that work from the more public health focused work, a reopening, because there are economic consequences to all the control measures for the pandemic. And so we had to work very hard to stay focused on this idea of sustaining and supporting businesses at such a time as they were able to operate once the restrictions were lifted rather than sort of splash around in the reopening stuff, which was really the purview of the TDC and Maine’s EDC.
And in retrospect looking at that, they managed it beautifully. We were in a much better situation than any other state. So we’re now doing what I would describe as a pivot. We’ve just made a report where we say here’s a list of economic priorities in the emergency that we think needs some attention and some funding.
And now we’re shifting to this longer term idea of recovery. And when we think about our mission, our mission is actually focused on getting back on track with Maine’s 10 year economic strategy. And that strategy is really clear. It had input from hundreds of stakeholders, it was just finished. And so now we’re about to embark on the work to evaluate the strategy, see what action steps are still valid in what might be different because of the pandemic. And I can then to try and make recommendations on how we can be very focused in our work to get back to being on track with that 10 year plan, as soon as we can.
Yury: Josh, you talked about pivots and trying to kind of balance all the strategies in accordance with the 10 year plan. But what are the points for that pivot? So like, what has COVID done to our economy here in the state? Like, what is our starting point now?
Joshua: Yeah. So we’ve heard from a lot of economists. We brought on a bunch of folks to visit with us. We’ve met – between our subcommittees and our full committee – about 70 times, and we’ve also done meetings. We’ve had guests join us and try and inform us about what’s going on.
And it’s hard to summarize it in a couple of sentence, except that it’s bad. It’s really bad, and it’s going to get worse. And whatever part you’re looking at, that full story is worse because no one person can see all the parts that have been terribly damaged. And I think the things that are most immediate and obvious are the damage to small business. Maine has a thriving tourism economy, your retail economy, a lifestyle economy, and all of those small businesses are just in terrible shape. And many have gone away. Many will never come back. Others have adapted and successfully tried to figure out how they can operate in this time. And even those that are still operating alright, obviously in really tough shape. They’re under really incredibly difficult conditions.
And so as we look ahead to what is the economy going to look like, that’s one of our challenges is how do we know what our starting point is. You know, we’ve heard the news that the state deficit will be well north of a billion dollars during the course of the pandemic and the immediate aftermath. And we think that there’s been billions of dollars of impact to the Maine economy and just substantial GDP reduction. And in some industries have essentially been zero since it started. And many industries that had sort of long term directional weaknesses, some of those trends were accelerated by 10 years.
And so our traditional businesses, like in the industrial sector in some cases, are in really tough shape. So it’s hard to encapsulate just how difficult the situation is. And in fact, the biggest surprise for me – not that it was not anticipated but just sort of understanding the depth – was sort of the emotional impact of just trying to get my arms around all of this anguish. I mean, it’s bad up and down the line. And so as we look forward to thinking about how we’re going to do work in terms of getting back on the plan, one of the big challenges just we have is not knowing the starting point. What is the lull? Because the damage is ongoing today. I mean the pandemic in some cases nationally, and it has been in a few months, and while our numbers are pretty good here in Maine, it’s right at our doorstep.
Rich: Absolutely. And obviously such a connected ecosystem anyways, like we’re so connected, not just to all the other states but the rest of the world as well. So we can’t just be in our own little bubble.
I read through the report that your committee put together. It seems like there’s three sections to this report; support Maine people, stabilize Maine employers, and invest in Maine infrastructure. I definitely want to talk about the infrastructure, and we often hear about PPP and other support for employees, but what were the recommendations for owners and employers here in the state?
Joshua: Yeah, so we had a section called, “support Maine employers”, and we made several recommendations there. Probably the biggest and most impactful recommendation is a business support program, particularly for small businesses. The idea was that there were many small businesses that have sound business models, that in a normalized environment it’ll be fine and could adapt. But for the pandemic, they otherwise had a sound model and were healthy. And many of those businesses won’t be around for the recovery. And the idea of reinventing the economy and restarting businesses from scratch, versus our current business owners surviving, that was really important to us.
And so we had recommended a direct business support program. And we recognize that businesses aren’t the only employers in Maine. One of the big employer is nonprofits. In fact, they employ something like 17% of the workforce here. And so we recommended similarly a nonprofit support program that would support those employers as well.
So the idea was there was just desperate, desperate need for direct support for those businesses to make it to the other side of the pandemic. And we had heard from many of the specific industries who had floated really big numbers, like tourism for example, had an $800 million number from a need standpoint. And what we did is we took a look at the Affordable Cares Act funding and had some thoughts about, hypothetically, if the second stimulus comes, what could those numbers be? And we tried to recommend something that was really needy and large and gave some sense of the order of magnitude, but it was in the realm of achievable.
And, of course we need our appropriators and implementers to tell the ERC. And so we don’t necessarily have our arms around every competing priority for the scarce available funds. But, we wanted to send a clear message that businesses were in trouble, nonprofits were in trouble, and supporting those employers in the short term could pay dividends in the long term when they can be back on track for recovery.
Yury: Wow. That’s a lot to process. And I appreciate people like you who put their time and effort into this kind of working with thinking about the existing ecosystem and how to support employers workforce in Maine. In that same report that Rich referenced, you’re talking about you had a recommendation around a statewide broadband initiative. Why is this so important, in your opinion?
Joshua: Yeah, so broadband is critical for Maine because we are a distributed state and we have a lot of territory and relatively few people, and we’re separated by tremendous distance. And for us to recover successfully, we have to harness their creativity and energy at every Maine person. And I think what we found in this pandemic is that preexisting lines of digital have and have nots, were really brought into relief. So we realize that lots and lots of people in Maine didn’t have broadband, and not having broadband during the pandemic meant that they didn’t have it access to remote work. Like I’m working from home right now and if I didn’t have a broadband connection I’d be out of a job, Tilson would have to find a new CEO. And it was absolutely necessary for distance education. I’ve got two young kids and they finished the school year from home, which is its own topic. That’s a challenging situation, but I’m grateful they were able to finish the year.
And my entire family has participated in telemedicine since this started. And so a lot of necessary medical services now are delivered safely over to telemedicine, and the idea that my family had access to that but other families didn’t, not only is a terrible situation for that family, but it’s a terrible problem for me. We need that family engaged and contributing to the recovery. And we also want to make sure that as we recover, that we all arrive to whatever that place is together. And so if work is going to be projected from home and key lifeline services are going to be consumed over broadband, then it’s imperative that everybody have it.
I will also say it became pretty apparent that what having “it” meant was totally different from what we thought. So, I would have described my house as pretty well served by broadband. I had a decent broadband connection, totally inadequate for two kids doing remotely, and my wife and I work from home at the same time. And now I have three broadband connections, all three of which are marginal. I live in Portland by the way, not theoretically someplace way off grid, and I have a substandard connection. I have employees that live in major metro areas that have fiber to their home and I can actually see them, we have a clear picture. My outer projection is fuzzy when I’m communicating with them and they’re clear. And I think that’s like a metaphor for the state of our infrastructure here.
Rich: Absolutely. And we’ve all, having done these podcasts remotely for a while, we’ve all had that moment where we have to turn to everybody else and be like, “Okay, stop streaming. We need to stop streaming now because I’m doing a webinar, turn off your video.”
Yury: Well, we actually, we had to reschedule because there were kids in the background doing their homework and we just couldn’t record.
Joshua: Right. I’ve got a couple of knocks on my door since we’ve been here. When I started the pandemic, I didn’t have a door in my office. And since then we’ve installed one.
Rich: So if I read this correctly, between building and plan out on the broadband side, the report estimates the cost of about $165 million, $100 million of that is going to come, hopefully, from a Maine bond. Some people are going to argue this is just more government spending. What do you say to those people that just see this as some big government project that’s not going to pay off?
Joshua: So on the numbers, the Connect Maine Authority estimated that the private index of Maine was something like $600 million to solve the problem. And we recommended essentially two actions on broadband. One, there’d be an allocation of $60 million of Cares Act funding. This is the discretionary state fund provided by the federal government. And also inclusion of $15 million additional dollars into what we call the connections bond issue. That would be done by the state and the connections bond included $85 million for transportation and $50 million for broadband.
And we had heard from other planning groups, this idea of a connections bond being that the way we connect to each other here in Maine is both physical and virtual and in our working together. And so there are certainly detractors who would look at not just the broad band recommendations, but many of the recommendations as expansion of government or an unnecessary expense.
And I think any way you look at any historical period that in any key infrastructure from rural electrification all the way through universal telephone service, investment in infrastructure that connects people and drives the economy has some of the best payback and it’s demonstrable. Like, you can study those areas and see what the cause and effects were.
So I would say that to share concerns that other people have around the increasing debt load during this period, but I would argue that this is a historically inexpensive time to borrow. And if you think there’s a good return on that infrastructure, that it makes good sense. And I think about it just like I would a business decision. So I’m going to go make a capital investment if I can do it in a period when money is cheap, that’s great. That lowers my cost. And if I know I’m going to reap, um, you know, a reasonable return on that investment, those are the kinds of decisions that, that I think the state needs to make.
And that’s actually a pretty easy argument to make in infrastructure. Like while some people are saying any spending or any debt is bad, I’m not going there. In terms of priorities I would say investments in infantry is an easier case for many people. I would argue that some of the recommendations we made on investing in people are equally important, that the support of an individual through a hard time is an investment in their lifetime of contribution. And I think sometimes we’re much too frugal on the front end and not generous enough and we don’t look at that investment with a business lens to say, look, investment in our human capital, investing in the people that power Maine has a higher return, I guess a really obvious case on infrastructure, and these kinds of emissions, extend that to other forms of sort of health and human resource support.
Yury: Josh you talked about developing infrastructure and we talked about information super highway, but there’s also Maine physical highways. What does the state need to do there?
Joshua: So one thing that I’ve seen, and I’ll compliment the Department of Transportation on this, is that we have a very short building season and they’ve moved – as well as municipalities and counties who have responsibilities – have moved to do what they can on the roads while traffic is light. And so I think they haven’t missed their window to really make the best use of the fact that there are few times when the weather is good, where we don’t see traffic on some of these areas, but there’s only so much money.
And so the voters just approved a transportation bond package. I think it was a $100 million dollars in the last referendum in July. And we recommended that that’d be followed up with $35 million of investment. I mean, ultimately Maine people bear the costs of transportation. And when the infrastructure is in bad shape, transportation is slower, then the vehicles are damaged and wear out faster.
At the end of the day, as Mainers, that is all of our costs. And so we can take the costs, let’s say from $1 to 80 cents, by having roads that are in better shape, which require less costs on the vehicles and less gas. Then that’s a prudent investment that returns to our entire society here. I think the idea that I’m doing that now, that the return on investment gets even better when you think about just how low the interest rates are. From a bonding standpoint, they run to zero for pre tax exempt bonds. Now is a really good time to make those investments and to bring down our transportation costs.
Rich: Josh, after putting together the report, were there any surprises for you in there? Anything that you were just kind of stunned to see those numbers or that impact?
Joshua: So I guess there were two surprises. One was as bad as I thought that the economy was and the damage done, it was way worse. And we heard from guest after guest, both from an anecdotal standpoint people who are severely impacted, and from bankers and economists. We had representatives from the Fed and it was just shocking how bad it was. And as sort of a core corollary to that, I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising, but it was really eye opening to see just how unequal the impacts were.
So generally people who were on the economic edge before COVID faced much more severe consequences so far during the pandemic than others who were doing better. They have worst health outcomes, they had worse business outcomes, they had worse housing outcomes, just across the board it was worse.
And what the Feds were able to tell us was, all the numbers aren’t even in from this and in the post pandemic period, but here’s the numbers of pre pandemic. It was a disaster before. And so it really highlighted just sort of how the economy wasn’t working for everybody. And it was clear that when we say not working for everybody, that groups that were disadvantaged in any way, had already been suffering worse outcomes. And those included people of color, immigrant groups, businesses that were run by various minorities, all were having worse outcomes before. And then what COVID did was it just exacerbated those differences. And so that was a huge eye opener.
What was also a big surprise to me was the level of consensus that our group had. So we had 40 some odd people. We had Republicans and Democrats, we had business people and nonprofit providers, folks with just incredibly different worldviews. And we were able to reach consensus on virtually every item. What I would say is that there were many that felt like we didn’t invest enough in certain things. In other words, they totally agreed we should do like a business support program, but it should have been of a magnitude bigger. And so what was interesting was that there was, besides those sort of order of magnitude kind of differences, really good consensus around the necessity for doing the kinds of things that we recommended.
Of course, what’s hard about that is there’s just not enough resources. And so as we watched that administration and the legislature and agencies try and implement some of these things, there’s just simply not enough resources available at the state level, either through the Federal Cares Act allocation or state funds. And so it’s absolutely critical. I’ll say this loudly and often to anyone who will listen, to talk to your delegation about the necessity for having state and local support from the federal government during this time period.
Yury: Wow. This is a very sobering assessment, and I’m glad that it’s being presented in such objective terms. I appreciate that, Josh. Well you know, we can talk for hours because it matters to all of us. We live, we work, and we’re committed to the success of the state.
At the end of every show, we ask all of our guests if they had a chance to change one thing to improve the business ecosystem here in Maine, what would it be?
Joshua: I would say greater investment in education. When I think about what does Maine mean to Tilson, Maine is our headquarters. It’s a place where we have 180 of our 600 employees. It’s our single biggest location in the country. And we love to hire great people and unlock their potential, and the work that we do stands on the shoulders of all the education they’ve received in their life.
And so when I say a bigger investment in education, I’m thinking from pre-kindergarten, we know that money spent there has the sort of biggest cognitive payback over the long-term. You know, all the way through primary school and into undergraduate and graduate programs. All of those pieces, need support and expansion to be successful here in Maine.
I think we face a double headed challenge. We have opportunity and we have threat. And the opportunity is, our people in Maine can work anywhere now. And so we know that you’re not disadvantaged necessarily if you want to work for Facebook. If you live in Fort Kent and you happen to have fiber to your home, then you would be if you live in Silicon Valley, but the inverse is also true. So now businesses that employ people in Maine can also look to any place for their talent. And so I like to think we’ll be big winners in the sort of decoupling of geography from talent, because we’ve got great geography. But ultimately, while opportunity hasn’t historically been distributed, and now maybe it’s a bit more distributed because of being able to work over distance, talent is distributed because we have smart, capable people who to unlock their full potential need education from very early in the process. These are very long-term investments, all the way through graduate education. And what I would say is if we make those investments, we’ll be able to maximize the potential remaining people and also attract the kind of people we’d like to come join our state and be a part of our communities here.
Rich: Josh, that’s great. And normally this is the point where I would say, where can we find you online? But I want to throw out a bonus question because, to use Yury’s language, this has been sobering. Okay. Can you give me one spark of hope that maybe came out of the report or you read it and you said, “Yes, but here’s what we can do”? What is one positive thing that came out of this report?
Joshua: So this wasn’t highlighted in the report, but I’m sure will be a topic that we explore as we get into the recovery work, as opposed to the firefighting. And that is the sort of green shoots that we see in the innovation economy here in Maine. And I’ll highlight life sciences specifically.
We’ve had tremendous success in life science startup, life science scaling, life science education with the Rue Institute here in Portland. Life science is a place where we remain as punching above its weight. And so that is one of many economic sectors that has many green shoots. And the way I view it as we head into this next phase of our work, we’ll be looking at workforce, we’ll be looking at innovation, we’ll be looking at infrastructure.
We think there’s good renovation here, and we’re going to have to work very hard to focus in on the places where we can put the most water on those new green shoots. And we have limited resources and they will become more limited to the emergency. So we’ll have to be very thoughtful about what we think we can have comparative advantage. And I’m optimistic that those areas that exist and are really right for further investment.
Rich: That’s awesome. Josh, now I’ll say, where can we find you online?
Joshua: You can find us online at Tilson’s website, https://tilsontech.com/.
Rich: Awesome. Thank you so much, Josh. Really appreciate you coming by and talking a little bit about Maine’s economic recovery opportunities here.
Joshua: Thanks, Rich. Thanks, Yury. It’s my pleasure.
Yury: Thank you, Joshua. Have a great day.
Joshua: Thanks, you too.
Rich: That report and this interview contains a lot of essential information for the Maine economy going forward. If there’s anything you missed in today’s episode, you can get a full transcript at our website. Just head on over to fastforwardmaine.com/62 for our interview with Josh.
And this was a very thoughtful episode, a lot to process, but we always try and deliver our fast takes for you. So Yury, what was your fast take for today?
Yury: I have one fast take, and something that I also want to add, because I’m extremely excited about it. So here’s my fast take; investment in infrastructure that leads to connecting people – whether it’s roads or your information highway through internet and broadband -tends to generate greater return on investment, and ultimately leads to contributions long-term.
But what I was psyched about to hear from Josh was the life science innovation and that our startups punching above the weight. This exciting, it’s just something that I was really pleased to hear in his very sobering report. So those are two things from me. Rich, what is your fast take?
Rich: Well if you’re going to cram two fast takes, then maybe I will, too. My first one is just that this idea of this entrepreneurial approach to governance where Josh is talking about now is the time to be borrowing money for important tasks, talking about investing in kindergarten and pre-K things for the long term. Like those are just smart business decisions and yes, they come with a certain amount of risk. But people who never want the government to spend any money, that’s actually more problematic in my opinion. So that was one of my fast takes.
And this I guess is my own 2 cents. It’s just that a lot of the stuff we talked about today is very much on the macro level, and if Janet Mills or any other leader in Maine calls me up and says, “Rich, we need your help on this”, the way that Josh was called to action, of course I’m going to respond. But I can’t control the macro, but I can control the micro. So I am going to focus on making sure that my company, my employees, and my clients are as taken care of as I’m able to do over the coming months and years, as we get into this recovery.
It did seem bleak from this conversation, but I don’t necessarily know if it’s as bleak or as bad as everybody says, we’re going to find out. But if everybody just puts in their part, does their part, I think that we’re going to come through this more quickly than even some of the experts are expecting.