By Ramona du Houx
Maine lawmakers and local officials on October 29,2015 heard first-hand from management and workers at IDEXX Laboratories, in Westbrook, about the growing demand for highly trained workers.
The visit to IDEXX, the state’s largest publicly traded company and a manufacturer of veterinary diagnostic tools and water testing devices, was the eighth stop on a statewide jobs tour launched in January by House Speaker Mark Eves. Products to help detect and treat kidney desease in pets are examples of what IDEXX produces. INDEXX was certified as a Pine Tree Development Zone company under the Baldacci administration enabling it to take advantage of tax incentives. All PTDZ companies have to hire workers, and train them.
The purpose of the jobs tour is to spotlight the need to grow good jobs and strong wages in Maine at a time when the state lags the nation in economic growth.
“IDEXX is a bright spot in Maine’s economy,” said Speaker Eves, D-North Berwick. “It is an engine of economic growth and a strong example of how to grow good jobs and strong wages right here in Maine. We were incredibly impressed with the effort the company makes to train, develop, and care for its workers. We hope we can help them find ways to continue to flourish.”
Lawmakers including State Rep. Drew Gattine, State Senators Anne Haskell and Cathy Breen, as well as Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton and William Baker, the city's director of business and community relations, toured the LEED-certified Synergy Center. The Synergy Center is the company’s open work space concept building with a state of the art gym, local food based cafeteria, and clinic.
“IDEXX is one of our region’s largest employers, and I was impressed to see its operation in person and meet some of the great people who work there,” said Sen. Breen, who represents a part of Westbrook and is the lead Senate Democrat on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “The company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and employee health was clear during the tour of its Synergy Center, and its dedication to employee wellbeing is also a model to be followed.”
IDEXX employs roughly 2,400 people at the Maine headquarters in Westbrook and 6,000 worldwide. IDEXX added 1,000 new jobs last year and expects to grow at its workforce 4 percent per year.
“IDEXX is an excellent company to work for and a great corporate citizen of our city," said Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook. "Our visit focused on how we can work together to get more Maine students and workers into their pipeline for hiring.”
Sen. Anne Haskell, who also represents part of Westbrook, was impressed by the company’s commitment to its workers.
“The precision and technical work that takes place at IDEXX every day requires the kind of highly skilled workforce that must be prioritized to meet the demands of the 21stCentury economy,” said Haskell. “It was great to see IDEXX engaged in the kind of leadership development and training that can help their employees succeed. These are the kind of good business practices policymakers should support.”
Lawmakers have met with employers, workers, and community leaders across the state in York, Aroostook, Hancock, Kennebec, Somerset, Waldo and Oxford counties. The meetings prompted lawmakers to create the Put ME to Work program this session to partner with employers to train workers across the state for good paying-jobs in growing industries, such as logging, agriculture, health care and manufacturing.