The Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville and Penobscot Bay Regional chambers of commerce are hosting a Jan. 20 forum for local businesses and nonprofits to develop reform suggestions as part of Gov. Paul LePage’s “Red Tape Removal Audit.”

Owners and leaders of businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries are encouraged to attend the workshop that begins at 9 a.m. at the Rockport Opera House to contribute to the process and make their voices heard, the chambers said.

While LePage has attended a few of the workshops, including the Jan. 18 workshop in Auburn with the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce and one in Sanford last week, he did not attend a recent red tape workshop in Newport and will not be attending the joint workshop in Rockport, according to a spokesman.

According to Adrienne Bennett, who represents the governor’s office, LePage will be participating in a media interview Thursday morning, Jan. 20 in Auburn at 9 a.m.

“He is not going to be available to meet with them [the two chambers],” she said.

“The purpose of the meeting is to gather business people, nonprofit leaders, and government from the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville and Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber service areas to discuss their specific business regulatory concerns, as well as aspects of regulation they find helpful, and then share the feedback with the new administration in Augusta,” said Dan Bookham, director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce. “While we are likely to be joined by members of the administration, I’d be surprised if we saw Gov. LePage himself as he is a busy man and has only attended a few of the many Red Tape Audits taking place around the state.”

LePage called upon local and regional chambers before Christmas to hold red tape audits, explaining in his letter to them that: “During my campaign for Governor, I promised the people of Maine a comprehensive review of state regulations. We called it a ‘Red Tape Removal’ audit and the focus is eliminating unnecessary road blocks to job creation in Maine.

“It is time to deliver on this promise. I am writing to ask your local chamber of commerce to host a ‘Red Tape Workshop’ where local business leaders and lawmakers can develop some ideas for regulatory reform.

“Leaders of businesses of all sizes and industries need to contribute to this process. I can think of no better starting point than Maine’s locally-based chambers of commerce. I will take formal memorandums, a letter outlining key concerns or suggestions. Every idea that has the potential to move Maine forward will be considered.

“To the extent you can, please have participants cite specific statutes, rules, or compliance issues that you think need to be addressed. I need the whole story, so please provide a narrative and some numbers when you can. The cost of compliance, time to completion and other empirical information are needed to make the full case for reform.

“A comprehensive audit also tells you what works in an organization. To be complete, I would like to hear examples of how Maine is effectively and efficiently enforcing needed regulation. We can learn a great deal by looking closely at what works well.

“I want to be clear. Much of our regulatory framework needs to be in place for the health and well being of Mainers. We need to find a balance between quality of life and good jobs for Mainers.

“This has to be a thoughtful approach. In many cases the appropriate action may be to change how a rule is enforced rather than eliminate a needed safeguard. All the action we do take will occur in the light of day once my Administration takes office. Please keep that in mind.

“My colleagues in the Maine Legislature will be providing a great deal of leadership on regulatory reform. I strongly encourage you to include local lawmakers in your sessions. Improving our business climate is not a Republican or Democrat issue, and everyone needs to be involved.

“Linda Caprara at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce will be tracking events and keeping me informed about upcoming workshops. When possible, we will try to have members of my team attend as well.

“Thank you for considering my request for assistance. With your help, we will streamline the rules we have to have, eliminate senseless red tape and create a culture of cooperation between Maine’s regulators and the private sector.”

Chambers did heed the call from LePage and are scheduling them across the state. In addition to the Jan. 20 in Rockport, others include:

Jan. 21: Red Tape Audit Meeting: York Chamber of Commerce

Jan. 24: Red Tape Audit Meeting: Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce

Jan. 25: Red Tape Audit Meeting: Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce

Jan. 26: Red Tape Audit Meeting: Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce

Jan. 31: Red Tape Audit Meeting: Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Feb. 4: Red Tape Audit Meeting: Jay, Livermore Falls Chamber of Commerce

Besides a media interview, LePage’s Jan. 20 schedule also includes a 1 p.m. roundtable on Maine’s people and the environment at the Fort Western Room at the Augusta Civic Center with those who run businesses, such as farms, sporting camps, marine operations, energy companies and more.