Portland, ME, November 26, 2019 – Leaders in the outdoor recreation industry across Maine came together last week to discuss the importance of the outdoor economy to the state and its future at a forum entitled, Celebrating and Cultivating Maine’s Outdoor Recreation Economy. As part of the event, a panel moderated by Patricia Rojas-Ungar, Vice President of the Outdoor Industry Association, featured prominent leaders from the state’s non-profit, private and public sectors.
Governor Janet Mills was in attendance and spoke specifically about the state’s commitment to furthering the outdoor economy, demonstrated by the recent signing of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Confluence Accords and the establishment of the Office of Outdoor Recreation for the state of Maine.
“Maine people and visitors have enjoyed our vast natural resources for generations. From hunting to fishing to hiking and many other activities in between, experiencing and protecting the outdoors is an integral part of our heritage, it is who we are as a people, and it is a cornerstone of our state’s economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “By joining this partnership of states, Maine will continue to build on its strong outdoor recreation tradition to attract new businesses, encourage healthy lifestyles, create jobs and strengthen our rural economy.”
Maine joined 12 other states and is the second state in New England to sign the Confluence Accords, committing to advance the areas of conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, economic development and public health and wellness.
“New government data shows that Maine is one of the top outdoor recreation leaders in the country, and we believe there is even more room for growth,” said Jenny Kordick, Executive Director of Maine Outdoor Brands. “By promoting our outdoor businesses and investing in trails and other outdoor recreation infrastructure, we can further establish Maine as a national leader, create new jobs in the outdoor industry and boost the state’s economy.”
Maine’s Outdoor Recreation Industry a National Leader
According to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, Maine’s outdoor recreation industry makes up a larger percentage of the state’s economy than in almost any other state, ranking third only behind Hawaii and Montana. Outdoor recreation supports more than 40 thousand jobs in Maine, accounting for 6.4% of employment. Additionally, manufacturing of outdoor recreation goods contributed $328 million to Maine’s economy in 2017, an increase of 47% in the last five years.
How the Industry Can Work Together to Remove Barriers to the Outdoors
Carolann Ouellette, Director of the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, joined industry leaders and introduced the panel to discuss the state of Maine’s outdoor recreation economy. The panel discussion centered on how Maine is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the outdoor recreation space and what the state brings to the national effort to grow the outdoor recreation economy.
Panelists included: Maria Povec, Senior Policy Analyst, Maine Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future; John Judge, President and CEO, Appalachian Mountain Club; Russell Walters, President, Northern Outdoors and Dr. Tory Rogers, Medical Director, Let’s Go, MaineHealth.
One of the primary themes to emerge from the discussion was how the various sectors can work to bring people together, making the outdoors more accessible for all.
“By coming together, we’re able to advance both conversation and action required to expand our industry and its many associated benefits. These include economic development, job growth, improved public health, and greater awareness around conservation and sustainability,” said Shawn Gorman, Executive Chairman and great-grandson of L.L. Bean. “Pledging to support these four pillars is only the beginning. It’s the action that follows that is most important.”
Learn more about Maine’s outdoor recreation economy and impact.
About Maine Outdoor Brands: Formed in 2017, Maine Outdoor Brands (MOB) works to unite and provide a voice for Maine’s outdoor product, service, and retail brands. MOB is committed to strengthening Maine’s outdoor recreation brand and economy. The organization was formed by leaders from Blaze Partners, Good To-Go, Flowfold, Trailspace and Stabil (now owned by Implus) in 2017 and has grown to include more than 60 Maine outdoor brands — from guiding companies to gear makers. To learn more and get involved visit maineoutdoorbrands.com.
About L.L.Bean: L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe. L.L.Bean is a family-owned Maine company led by Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman, the great-grandson of Leon Leonwood Bean, and Stephen Smith, President and CEO. While its business has grown over the years, L.L.Bean continues to uphold the values of its founder, including his dedication to quality, customer service and a love of the outdoors. In the past five years, L.L.Bean has donated over $6 million toward conservation and land stewardship. L.L.Bean can be found worldwide at llbean.com.
About Maine Office Of Outdoor Recreation: The Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation was created in September 2018 and became a permanent division within the Department of Economic & Community Development in July 2019. Maine was the 12thstate to create an entity focused on the outdoor recreation economy and the 9thstate to hire a director, and is one of 13 signatory states to the Confluence Accords. The direction of the office is to leverage Maine’s assets and outdoor recreation heritage to grow the outdoor recreation economy; and to build Maine’s outdoor recreation brand as part of a coordinated effort with partners from the public and private sectors.