Maine Gov.-elect Janet Mills, right, on Thursday introduces ConnectME Authority Director Heather Johnson, Mills' choice to lead the state's Department of Economic and Community Development. Credit: Mal Leary | Maine Public

Maine Democratic Gov.-elect Janet Mills said she will nominate ConnectME Authority Director Heather Johnson as Maine’s next Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner.

Johnson said she faces challenges in the effort to encourage economic growth throughout the state.

“We currently have urban markets that are thriving, but have specific needs,” she said. “We can help with those and we need to work together to help solve those challenges. Our rural markets are struggling and, I believe, as I know the governor-elect does, that bolstering our rural communities is one of our top priorities.”

Mills wants to expand broadband access and stimulate the economy through targeted grants and loan programs. She has also called for better coordination in efforts to develop the state’s workforce.

Johnson would replace acting commissioner Denise Garland.

If confirmed by the Legislature, Johnson will oversee programs that include community block grants, tax breaks for businesses and tourism promotion.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.