Skip to main content

Author touts comeback of Maine boatbuilding industry

States challenged by budget cuts and struggling economies should look to Maine’s boatbuilding business to find ways out of the crisis.

That’s according to Karen Mills, a resident fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Association, who wrote on Entrepreneur that her home state of Maine capitalized on “a huge asset that wasn’t being fully maximized: our boatbuilding industry.”

“The state had led the world in boatbuilding for centuries and still had the world’s best craftsmen and women, but the industry — once a powerful job creator — was lagging,” Mills wrote. “The boats coming out of Maine were not built using the most up-to-date materials, and the costs were so high the builders were barely making a profit. Ironically, a solution to the problem was being developed just a few miles away at the University of Maine, where researchers were experimenting with a new lightweight composite technology.”

By bringing boatbuilders, researchers, state economic development teams and the U.S. Department of Labor to the table, they were able to develop a regional economic cluster to train workers, market the end product as Maine Built Boats and position the industry to grow and create jobs.

“Today, Maine Built Boats is going strong,” Mills wrote. “The boats are light, fast and use the latest technology. Annually, boatbuilding has become more than a $650 million industry, with about 450 companies and 5,000 jobs tied to it.”

Mills says that although it’s tempting to think the proximity of the university and the industry make it a “once-in-a-blue-moon” story, other communities can replicate the model by leveraging existing resources.

“It’s true that at a time of continued fiscal austerity in state budgets there’s limited room for investing in innovative economic growth programs,” Mills wrote. “Yet, creating an ecosystem does not require a huge investment — even small incentives go a long way. At their core, entrepreneurial ecosystems are built on the belief that in local economies the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts.”

Related

TPG Adds to Marine Portfolio

The hospitality and marina management firm acquired Conanicut Marina and Taylor Point Boat Yard in Jamestown, R.I.

Trade Only Today Returns Jan. 18

The daily e-newsletter will not publish Monday, Jan. 17, in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday weekend.

ECONOMY REPORT: Omnipresent Omicron

The year closed with an uptick in consumer confidence, but the latest coronavirus variant threatens to derail progress

Mixed Reactions

Though generally positive about market conditions, many dealers report they won’t be attending boat shows.

Sportsman Boats Hires CFO

Greg House was previously chief financial officer with Sea Star Solutions and Dometic.

NMMA Reports Strong Boat Sales in 2021

Annual new powerboat sales are expected to exceed 300,000 units for the second consecutive year.

Lowrance Releases Software Update

The software release enables a new sonar feature and autopilot compatibility for Ghost trolling motors and Ghost-compatible MFDs.

Keeping the Sales Team Motivated and Sharp

Here are some strategies from the “Undisputed King of Motivation,” Zig Ziglar, for sales success before, during and after the transaction.

Retired CG Officer Joins Commonwealth PR

Chad Saylor, who served as a public affairs officer, is an account executive with the Virginia-based public relations and marketing firm.