Regional Economy

Maine’s Opportunity Coast:
Where business can breathe.

Advanced materials and composites, energy/green technologies, specialty food, precision manufacturing, energy and environment, marine trades, tourism, and fishing/aquaculture are the anchors of the region’s economy. Click for more details on The Industry Sectors page.

Innovative and entrepreneurial businesses thrive amid a stunning environmental setting bolstered by a diverse and loyal workforce, easy transportation, proximity to major markets and welcoming communities.

Key Indicators*

Earnings

In 2010 the region generated $2,220,062,000 in total earnings representing 6.9% of earnings statewide. This figure averages $38 in earnings per worker, compared to $40 per worker in Maine and $50 per worker in the U.S. as a whole.

Per Capita Income

The region consists of all of Sagadahoc and Lincoln Counties, plus Brunswick and Harpswell in Cumberland County. In 2008 per capita income was $37,229 in Lincoln County, $37,243 in Sagadahoc County and $45,147 in Cumberland County. Each of these was higher than the total for Maine of $36,368. During the same year per capita income for the U.S. as a whole was $40,166.

Workforce

Maine employers testify over and over to the uniquely strong work ethic that Maine workers display every day. Aside from the higher education levels – over 28.1% of the region’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher – Maine workers are known for their extraordinary levels of interest and involvement in delivering high quality products. Maine people appreciate a good job and are willing to drive further from home for one, and work hard to prove their worth and deliver value.

In 2009 the region’s labor force consisted of 49,599 persons. Of this amount 46,035 were employed and 3,564 were unemployed for an unemployment rate of 7.2%, compared to 8.0% statewide and 8.5% in the U.S.

Employment

In 2010 there were a total of 58,858 jobs within the region, an increase of 1% (or 424 jobs) from the 2006 level of 58,317. Job growth in the region has outpaced job growth in Maine and the nation; during this same period Maine experienced a decrease of 0.3% in total jobs and the nation experienced a decrease of 0.8%.

Between 2006 and 2010 the sectors that experienced the highest rate of job growth in the region included Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (9%), Health Care and Social Assistance (9%), Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (7%), and Education Services (7%).

Of the region’s 58,861 jobs in 2010 Health Care and Social Assistance represented the largest sector (13.4%) followed by Manufacturing (12.2%), Retail Trade (12.2%), and Government.

Sales and Taxable Retail Sales

In 2010 the region generated $5,652,719,000 in total sales representing 6.7% of sales statewide.

In 2009, total taxable retail sales in the region equaled $906,428,000, which represented 5.7% of all taxable retail sales statewide. Between 2004 and 2009 the region experienced a decrease in retail sales of 4.9% compared to a drop of 1.4% in Maine; this drop was driven by a national economic decline as well as closure of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Demographics*

Population

In 2009 the population of the region was 98,255. This represented 7.5% of Maine’s population. The region’s 2009 population was an increase of 3.1% over the 2000 level, compared to 3.2% for Maine and 8.8% for the U.S. The slow growth in the region’s population was impacted by the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Median Hourly Earnings

$15.35 as of 2010, slightly less than the average U.S. earnings of $17.94.

Median Household Income

Based on the 2000 U.S. Census, the average median household income among the region’s communities was $40,477. This compared to $37,240 for Maine and $41,944 for the U.S.

Educational Attainment

Based on the 2000 U.S. Census, on average among the region’s communities, the Percent of Population 25 Years or Over With a Bachelors Degree or More was 28.1% compared to 22.9% in Maine and 24.4% in the U.S.

Infrastructure

This region of coastal Maine is served by a variety of road, air, rail, sea, power and telecommunications options.

Interstate 295 hugs the coastline, running parallel to coastal Route One. The Portland International Jetport is easily accessible to the entire region and recently undergone a large expansion, increasing its ability to handle both freight and passenger traffic. Wiscasset offers a General Aviation airport, as does the Knox County Regional Airport.  Also, the Brunswick Executive Airport in Brunswick opened in 2011. [Above: Official U.S. Navy Photograph (released).] Additionally, the Maine Eastern Railroad provides passenger and freight service between Brunswick and Rockland, and high speed passenger and freight rail service will come north to Brunswick later in 2012.

Reduced electricity rates are available and telecommunications options include more robust T1 lines. Through the Connect ME authority, Maine has invested millions to increase broadband connectivity. With the redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station comes additional opportunity for energy alternatives and advanced telecommunications for the region.

Telecommunications

 

Telecommunications Providers in the Region:

FairPoint Communications

Midcoast Internet Solutions

Pinetree Networks/OTT Communications

Tidewater Telecom (Coastal Telephone Group)

Time Warner Cable

Unitel, Inc.

Verizon Maine

A new initiative, known as the “Three Ring Binder,” is underway in the region to make IT Infrastructure more accessible and redundant. This public-private project will lay three rings of fiber along U.S. Route 1 through the entire stretch of the MidCoast region. This will be is a true “dark fiber” asset for telecom carriers looking to provide quality broadband services to customers in the region and throughout the State.

Leading the effort is Maine Fiber Company (MFC), a dark-fiber leasing company supporting all telecom carriers in Maine. MFC was formed to oversee the construction, maintenance and leasing of the 1,100-mile, high-capacity fiber optic network, to be built through a combination of a federal grant and private investment.

The MFC network is available to all qualified users on an equal basis. No customers will be given preferential treatment, and no single entity can use more than 20% of any segment of the network. Potential customers include telecommunications providers and entities with a high demand for data transmission. In accordance with the initial federal grant application, a portion of the network has been reserved for use by the University of Maine System and the State of Maine. The network is expected to have more than sufficient capacity to meet customer needs for the foreseeable future

Higher Education

 

A number of excellent institutions of higher learning are located in or nearby the region, providing a variety of degree, workforce training and ongoing education programs.

The Apprenticeshop Rockland•(207) 594-1800

Bowdoin College
Brunswick • (207) 725-3000
Central Maine Community College, Lincoln County Healthcare Education Center
Damariscotta • 563-4820

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Brunswick •  (207) 721-0664

Midcoast Center for Higher Education
Bath • (207) 386-0013

Maine Media  Rockport•1-877-577-7700

SMCC Advanced Technology Center
Brunswick • (207) 729-0273

Southern New Hampshire University/Maine
Brunswick • (800) 427-9238

University College
Bath/Brunswick • (207) 442-7736 or 1-800-696-2329 (in state)

University of Rockland Rockland• (207) 596-6906

Incentive Programs

A large number of State, Regional and Local incentive and assistance programs are available to businesses in Maine’s Opportunity Coast. The following is a partial listing:

State of Maine

Maine offers economic incentives that can specifically benefit the bottom line.   These benefits range from direct financial assistance and tax incentives to technical assistance.

BETR (Business Equipment Tax Rebate) Program
Allows qualified businesses a 0% sales and use tax on all new tangible personal property purchases.

Employment Tax Increment Financing (ETIF)
Qualified employers who hire new employees above an established baseline may be eligible for a tax reimbursement of a percentage of employer state income tax payments.

Finance Authority of Maine (FAME)
To benefit the people and communities of Maine, the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) Business Division helps Maine businesses access capital, create new employment opportunities, and compete in the global marketplace. Programs for business include Direct Loan opportunities, Commercial Loan insurance, Equity Capital programs, and Commercial Bond funding, as well as lender-related programs and a business reference library on its website.

Governor’s Training Initiative
The Governor’s Training Initiative program develops and coordinates training for firms intending to expand or locate in Maine, reorganize a workplace to remain competitive, or upgrade worker skills. Eligible businesses may receive reimbursements for on-the-job training, competitive retooling, assessment, job-task analysis, workplace safety and literacy, specialized recruitment, high-performance skills, or customized technical training.

High-Technology Investment Tax Credit
The credit is based on the adjusted basis of eligible equipment, and is limited to high-tech equipment purchased (or leased) by businesses engaged primarily in high-tech activities. The credit cannot reduce tax to an amount below the previous year’s tax after credits. The credit cannot be carried back, but can be carried forward for up to five years.

Jobs and Investment Tax Credit
The credit is based on the federal credit amount, according to the Internal Revenue Code in effect as of December 31, 1985, which is based on investment in qualified property. Limitations: the taxpayer must create at least 100 new jobs within two years from the date the qualified property was placed in service and invest at least $5,000,000 in one year. The credit is limited to tax liability or $500,000, whichever is less, and cannot be carried back, but can be carried forward up to seven years.

Maine Quality Centers
Through its Community College System, Maine offers free training and education to qualified new and expanding businesses. Under the Maine Quality Centers program, businesses – or consortia of small businesses – creating a minimum of eight new full-time jobs are eligible for customized recruitment and guaranteed fast-track training designed to employer specifications.

Municipal Tax Increment Financing
Maine municipalities may target some or all of the new property taxes from a commercial or industrial project within a designated district to assist in that project’s financing.

Pine Tree Development Zones
This program works with existing programs and enhances them for specific businesses that fit particular economic criteria. Benefits include a Corporate Income Tax Credit of up to 100% for first five years and up to 50% for the next five years; Insurance Premiums Tax Credits on the same schedule; Income Tax Reimbursement up to 80% for ten years (ETIF); Personal and Real Property Tax Exemption up to 100% for 10 years on new personal and real property; Property Tax Reimbursement up to 100% for 30 years; and reduced Electricity Rates.

Regional

Midcoast Revolving Loan Program
The Midcoast Revolving Loan Program provides financing assistance for existing and start-up businesses throughout the Midcoast region. The Loan Program serves as a secondary lender and works with banks and other private and public funding sources to spur the local economy and help businesses create jobs. In addition to its direct loan programs, MCEDD provides assistance to businesses in accessing other local and state sources of financing.

Contact us for more information: Call (207) 370-6045 or email info@mceddme.org

Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
A Community Development Corporation and Community Development Financial Institution based in Wiscasset. Financing opportunities include:

  • Direct loans to start-up, existing and growing Maine small businesses, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $500,000.
  • Venture capital investments in small businesses located in New England and the mid-Atlantic region. Investments range from under $500,000 to over $1million.
  • New Markets Tax Credits for investments in targeted distressed communities in Maine, Northern New England, and upstate New York. Select projects with high 3E impact will be considered in other parts of the country. Tax credit investments range from $2 million to $30 million.
  • The SBA 504 program which provides fixed-rate financing for machinery, equipment and buildings – as much as $4 million for manufacturing.
  • Affordable Homeownership, Rental and Supported Housing with loans and development capital from under $500,000 to over $2 million.

Towns and Cities

Individual towns and cities in the region offer additional customized financing packages. Call us at (207) 370-6045 or email us at info@mceddme.org for more information.