By Eric Smith
Two years after forming, Maine Outdoor Brands (MOB)—the nonprofit that promotes the state’s outdoor assets to benefit businesses and residents alike—has appointed Jenny Kordick as its first, full-time executive director.
Kordick takes on this role at a time when Maine’s outdoor brands are thriving, as evidenced by their presence at this week’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver, CO, and highlighted by a Happy Hour featuring said brands on Tuesday, June 18, at 4:30 p.m.
MOB’s mission is to strengthen Maine’s $8.2 billion outdoor recreation economy by uniting business leaders and entrepreneurs in raising awareness of Maine’s outdoor recreation economy. Recent wins for the organization include helping facilitate the creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation in Maine, the 13th one in the U.S.
Kordick, who hopes to build on that momentum, spoke with SGB this week about why her background was ideal for this role, how Maine is its own brand, and her goals for promoting both the organization and the state’s outdoor brands. Here’s what she shared.
What drew you to this position and why was it a good fit for both you and the organization? I have followed Maine Outdoor Brands since it formed in 2017 and was impressed (but not surprised) in how quickly it took off. There is a palpable enthusiasm for growing the outdoor economy here, and a lot of momentum building with MOB and our new Office of Outdoor Recreation in place. I am excited to be a part of it and be in a position to advocate for the outdoor brands that call Maine home. I bring a decade of nonprofit experience to the role, having spent many years directing campaigns and building diverse coalitions around causes to protect public lands and our outdoors. Here in Maine, this experience will allow me to work with a powerful and expanding network of businesses united around a clear objective: growing Maine’s outdoor economy.
What are your goals for growing Maine Outdoor Brands (the organization), its members and the state’s outdoor economy? Hiring an executive director is a huge milestone for the organization and gives us a chance to double down on uniting and growing Maine’s outdoor brands. We will be providing opportunities for brands to connect and collaborate, elevate our member companies and the industry at large, and advocate for policies and opportunities that will support the outdoor economy in the state and help attract a younger workforce. We just hit 100 members, but we’d like to see that number grow even further—including more product, service and retail brands, as well as nonprofit partners and supporters who are committed to seeing the outdoor economy recognized and successful in Maine. I also hope to keep the creative, fun and innovative spirit alive that has been core to MOB since the beginning.
What distinguishes Maine’s outdoor brands from others around the country? Maine in and of itself is an outdoor brand and provides near-constant inspiration for the companies that are based here, particularly those who have a passion for the outdoors, are committed to sustainability and providing high-quality products or experiences. Maine is an outdoor playground but also a testing ground, and a source of ideas, talent and community that helps outdoor brands thrive. There’s also an independent and innovative spirit in Maine that really shines through in the companies that are based here.
What role can Maine Outdoor Brands and its member companies play to benefit the greater U.S. outdoor recreation industry? The outdoor industry is a force, and Maine’s outdoor brands are certainly a part of that, contributing $8.2 billion to the outdoor recreation economy. We were among the first states to establish an Office of Outdoor Recreation, and the first, that I’m aware, to have built an alliance of businesses united in their goal of growing, promoting and advocating for a stronger outdoor recreation economy. As the first in this space, we see MOB as providing a model for other states that may have an Office of Outdoor Recreation, but perhaps not (yet) a true partner representing the interests that drive economic development. Ultimately, we’re all in this together and if we can share what we’ve learned with others looking to do something in their state, we see that as benefiting the greater U.S. outdoor recreation industry.
What is your favorite place to recreate in Maine and why? There are so many places to choose from. We are lucky in Maine to have extremely accessible ocean, mountains, lakes and forests. I am a kayaker and spend a lot of time in Casco Bay around the islands there, but admittedly haven’t even scratched the surface of the 3,500 miles of pristine coastline we have in Maine. I have also loved visiting Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument after seeing it put on the map and become more established in the last couple of years. That part of the state is beautiful in all seasons and there are great options for biking, hiking, cross country skiing, and paddling.
Photo courtesy Maine Outdoor Brands