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March 15, 2022

19 outdoor economy entrepreneurs selected for new industry training program

kayak on beach Courtesy / Maine Outdoor Brands via Facebook A new entrepreneurship program seeks to give businesses in the outdoor industry a boost in business training specific to the sector.

Maine has ranked as one of the top five states for the impact of outdoor recreation to its economy, and now a  new entrepreneurship program seeks to build on that standing by giving businesses training in the industry.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs and Maine Outdoor Brands on Monday named 19 participants for the inaugural 10-week program, called MCE Compass, which is launching this month. 

The goal is to provide Maine businesses in the outdoor industry with learning sessions, contacts and insights from experts with national outdoor brand companies, according to a news release.

The program is funded by a grant from the Maine Community Foundation; financial support from Maine Outdoor Brands, and sponsorships from public and private supporters, including Norway Savings Bank.

The outdoor recreation industry in Maine has been growing steadily, supporting over 40,000 direct jobs, and is projected to more than double from $2.7 billion in 2017 to $5.6 billion by 2030. 

“Despite its importance, until now there’s been no dedicated business training specific to this sector, similar to what’s offered to other important industries in Maine such as high tech and aquaculture,” Maine Center for Entrepreneurs Executive Director Tom Rainey said in the release. 

Maine Outdoor Brands was established as a trade association in 2017 to advocate on behalf of its members, who today number over 130, and aims to bring more visibility and resources to the industry, said its executive director, Jenny Kordick.

The partners engaged Edgard “Ponch” Membreño, a Maine Outdoor Brands board member and 20-plus-year veteran of business development in the outdoor industry, to serve as the program coordinator. 

The inaugural Compass cohort and their startups are:

  • Armanda Davis, Experience Maine
  • Mark Rodrigue, Rogue Life Maine
  • Samantha Andrews, Blissed Outside
  • Louis Zeppieri, Northern Echo Custom Sewing
  • Stephanie Noyes, 360Sleeves
  • Brian Fish, Maine Casual LLC
  • Christopher Paine, Daily Fly Fishing
  • Lindsay Currier, Still Peaking
  • Mish Sommers, Happier Outside
  • Eldon Loblein, GameTiks
  • Mark Ferguson, Brant & Cochran
  • Amanda Hatley, She Summits Co.
  • Lisa Montgomery, Penobscot Consulting Services
  • Norman Patry, Summer Feet Cycling and Walking Adventures
  • Cathy Streifel, Pyxie LLC
  • Phinney Baxter White, Governor Baxter
  • Paul Sannicandro, Moose Woods Guide Service LLC
  • Brenden Westin, DuraBike
  • Sara Hammond, business name to be determined.

“We have companies representing all parts of the industry, from service providers to product designers, manufacturers and sellers,” said Membreño. “We have others just beginning their entrepreneurial journey as well as those hoping to scale. I’m excited to see how this group, equally split by gender, will engage in our sessions, and contribute to Maine’s emerging outdoor industry. “  

The group will meet weekly via Zoom and have the opportunity to work with industry leaders from companies like L.L.Bean, Toad & Co., Grassroots Outdoor Alliance and 1% for the Planet. Speakers will cover topics including scaling up operations for national and international markets, supply chain sustainability and social responsibility, and new product innovation using design thinking.

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