Maine Technology Institute President Betsy Biemann has resigned, according to a release put out today by the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
Biemann has been president of MTI since 2005. According to the release, Joe Migliaccio, manager of MTI’s Business Innovation Program, will serve as interim president while a search for a new leader is conducted.
“We thank Betsy for her more than seven years of service and wish her the best. We also look forward to working with Joe and the rest of the MTI team in keeping a strong focus on growing Maine companies and helping the private sector commercialize their products and services,” said DECD Commissioner George Gervais.
In recent weeks, as Gov. Paul LePage vetoed several bond proposals, Biemann emerged in media stories on Maine Public Broadcasting and WCSH regarding the governor’s nixing of a $20 million research and development bond. While LePage said too much R&D bond money in the past went to support government and nonprofit jobs, Biemann told several news outlets that state law lets both public and private entities get grants through MTI, determined through a competitive process.
On Monday, DECD spokesman Doug Ray said he would not comment on whether Biemann’s recent statements were at play in the change at MTI, or whether she was asked to resign.
“DECD is supportive of new leadership at MTI,” he said. “We’re not going to get into whether she was asked to resign; it’s as simple and clear cut as that.”
LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett, asked if the R&D bonds issue was a factor in Biemann’s resignation, said, “You’re going to have to ask her.” Asked if Biemann was asked to resign, Bennett answered, “As far as I know, she’s resigned and we’re supportive of a new direction at MTI.”
According to MTI’s website, the president of MTI is recommended by the MTI board of directors, appointed by the governor, confirmed by the Senate and employed by the DECD.
In the release, the department noted that “MTI is critical to the long-term development of Maine’s research, development and commercialization infrastructure.”
“Precious state resources need to be invested with job creation and new revenue as the ultimate goals,” said DECD Commissioner George Gervais.
He added that ongoing R&D investments are an “extremely important” part of growing our future economy.
“These projects are driven by the private sector, the real experts in job creation and the foundation of our economic success,” he said. “If our state is to remain open for business, we need to make sure that our private sector job creators get the access to the capital they need at the most critical time.”