Maine: Strong Small Business Culture
01 Aug, 2017
By Lori Culpepper
Many cities in Maine, especially Portland and the surrounding areas, rely on a strong business culture of small to mid-size, privately owned companies. The downtown district in Portland and the Old Port historical area provide a variety of business opportunities, and there is an emphasis on business growth throughout the greater Portland area.
There are some large companies that maintain their headquarters in Maine, including Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland; IDEXX Laboratories, a large veterinary biotech company in Westbrook; and outdoor supply retailer, L.L. Bean in Freeport. Maine is also the home of Jackson Laboratory, a non-profit institution that is the world’s largest mammalian genetic research facility.
Maine’s key industrial outputs include paper, lumber and wood products, electronic equipment, leather products, food products, textiles and bio-technology. Naval shipbuilding and construction continue to be important as well, with Bath Iron Works in Bath and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Portland International Jetport was recently expanded to provide the state with increased air traffic from carriers such as JetBlue and Southwest Airlines.
Seafood (notably lobsters), poultry and eggs, dairy products, cattle, blueberries, apples, and maple sugar are the primary agricultural products of the state. Western Maine aquifers and springs are a major source of bottled water.
Tourism and outdoor recreation have begun playing an increasingly important role in Maine’s economy. The state is a popular destination for sport hunting, sport fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, boating, camping and hiking, particularly during the summer months.
Maine Regional Sidebars
By Rachel Hamilton
Town of Richmond
Richmond is one of Maine’s Certified Business-Friendly Communities. “What that means is we really support business in a number of ways,” says Darryl Sterling, community, business and economic development director for the Town of Richmond.
Those supports include incentive programs, tax increment financing (TIF), grants for gap financing and partnerships with educational institutions like the Maine Technical Institute.
“Richmond’s location is central to commuter patterns for the regional workforce. […] What that entails is a population of 350,000 to draw on within a 30 mile radius.” says Sterling. The town is located between Portland and Maine’s capitol, Augusta, at Exit 43 off Interstate 295.
Just south of Richmond is Bath Iron Works, which builds large ships — notably destroyers for the Department of Defense (DoD), according to Sterling. Richmond is targeting companies interested in composites and advanced materials as well as any marine and aquaculture companies that might fit into the supply chain or benefit from DoD contracts.
Richmond is also working to attract “light industries or clean industries” such as call centers, says Sterling. “We have significant investment in commercial and industrial sites.”
“Richmond is turnkey ready for companies,” says Sterling. “We have fully revitalized our downtown and waterfront. […] All the transportation infrastructure is primed and ready to go.”
The waterfront in downtown Richmond overlooks the Kennebec River, across which is the Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area on Swan Island. The river also provides access by boat to the coast of Maine.