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Updated: October 25, 2022

Report finds outdoor recreation racks up $188M in annual sales in southern Maine

COURTESY / KMF146, FLICKR The report analyzed the market for goods and services produced and sold in the region by the equipment manufacturers was analyzed, including L.L. Bean, the Freeport-based outdoor gear and clothing retailer.

The outdoor recreation industry is responsible for a significant portion of southern Maine’s economy, attracting 5.5 million visitors in 2020 and generating $188.6 million in annual sales.

The industry also contributed nearly $105.3 million to the regional gross domestic product and represented 12% of Maine’s total outdoor recreation.

The findings came in a report commissioned by the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission and conducted by Camoin Associates, an economic development consulting firm with offices in Portland.

“We saw a need for this report because we recognize the potential for outdoor recreation to drive our economy in southern Maine,”  Paul Schumacher, the commission’s executive director, said in a news release. 

Schumacher called for “thoughtful and strategic” growth of the industry.

“This report helps determine steps we can take to further grow the industry in a way that aligns with community values, protects our existing outdoor assets while simultaneously leveraging opportunities to strengthen the existing industry through business support and development services,” he said.

The report focused on the region’s attractions and manufacturers of outdoor recreation equipment and was designed to assess jobs and sales associated with creating products and services, as well as quality of life.

The market for goods and services produced and sold in the region by the equipment manufacturers was analyzed. The report also looked at the use and demand for amenities, citing Marginal Way in Ogunquit, southern Maine's leg of the Eastern Trail, and Mount Agamenticus in York as examples. 

Camoin Associates employed quantitative and qualitative research analysis, focus groups and stakeholder interviews with business owners, outdoor recreation advocates and public officials.

Additional findings include:

  • The  population is growing and aging
  • Household incomes in southern Maine are outpacing the rest of the state of Maine
  • COVID-19 impacted the industry with an influx of people migrating to Maine and a subsequent increase in outdoor recreation
  • Outdoor recreation businesses were negatively impacted, especially due to the labor shortage

The report said outdoor recreation could be useful in attracting companies that are considering locating in Maine and recruiting talent. In addition, the report said that outdoor recreation offers an opportunity to build the Maine brand. 

It was recommended that the commission partner with other organizations such as Maine Outdoor Brands, Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, Maine Technology Institute, chambers of commerce, trail advocacy groups, community organizers and towns to develop strategies to build the industry.

Strategies include:

  • Create opportunities for communicating with partner organizations and surveys to get input from residents on issues related to outdoor recreation.
  • Use results to identify improvements and opportunities for grants.
  • Promote recreation signs, maps and recreation-friendly retail and food offerings. 
  • Develop joint marketing with chambers of commerce, tourism organizations and economic development professionals.
  • Create and promote a digital map of recreation assets.
  • Coordinate with employers to promote the lifestyle and benefits of living in southern Maine. 
  • Work with regional and state organizations such as Live + Work Maine to develop messaging and promotion specific to southern Maine.
  • Identify areas around the country that would be a prime location to attract people from
  • Expand recreational infrastructure.
  • Identify connections with local college students and create internships to assist with social media, web development and other marketing efforts.
  • Encourage southern Maine collaborations in the outdoor recreation industry,

Click here to read the full report.

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