Small Business Is The Main Business in Maine

At least 1/3 of Bar Harbor’s workforce is in professional, scientific and technical services

BAR HARBOR—Public policy is meant to be guided in Bar Harbor by a document that is updated approximately every ten years. The town is current creating its newest Comprehensive Plan, which is meant to “guide future growth and development over the next 10 years and will serve as a foundation for determining effective public policy, infrastructure investment, and land use decisions.”

The committee in charge of this has been gathering input and having meetings. Residents can get project updates via email at the town’s website. The 15 committee members were appointed by the Bar Harbor Town Council. The last plan was in 2007.

Current phase of the Comprehensive Plan process via town’s website.

There are multiple areas that the Comprehensive Plan is meant to address. One of those areas is sustainable economic development.

Via town website.


Maine isn’t the state of the big business. Small businesses—151,212 of them—make up 99.2% of Maine businesses. Small businesses are those with less than 500 employees by most government definitions.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has released Maine’s 2022 small business profile. And it’s all about small—small businesses. There are 293,748 Mainers who are employed by small businesses. That translates to 56.3 percent of all Maine employees.

Those businesses are opening and closing. And there was a net decrease of 9,420 jobs between March 2020 and March 2021. The cost of starting and keeping them running equated to $558.1 million in loans to Maine businesses (less than $1 million revenue) in 2020.

While Bar Harbor is heavily focused on professional, scientific and technical services (33%), most small business employees throughout Maine work in construction. Only 4% of people in Bar Harbor work in construction. Food services and accommodations make up 27% of Bar Harbor jobs.

via Existing Conditions Analysis Report and Comprehensive Plan website


The vision statement in the town’s 2019 Bar Harbor Housing Policy Framework states,

“Support Bar Harbor’s year-round community by having adequate and affordable workforce housing for residents who work in town, for families hoping to raise their children here, for seniors hoping to stay in the community as they age, and for businesses looking for a stable workforce and housing base needed to expand the town’s year-round economy.”

via Existing Conditions Analysis Report

Bar Harbor’s Existing Condition Analysis Report states,

“The presence of large institutions and employers like MDI Hospital, College of the Atlantic, The Jackson Laboratory , and MDI Biological Laboratory are unique for a community of this size. Although the two facets of Bar Harbor’s economy co-exist, there are tensions in the community regarding the economic impact provided, taxes paid, amount of municipal services required, and perceived transportation and infrastructure impacts. The diverging viewpoints on the inherent value of the different facets of the local economy appear to be creating different factions within the community – those that support the tourism-based sectors and continued growth and those that would prefer to see more year-round businesses grow and thrive. With limited land and resources, the town will need to define its economic pathway and work on it together.”

The report doesn’t only discuss polarities, it also offers up opportunities such as:

1.     Expanding the tourism season and creating year-round opportunities and therefore year-round employees;

2.     Building partnerships with the scientific laboratories, College of the Atlantic and MDI Hospital for start-ups and entrepreneurship programs;

3.     Leveraging natural resources (ANP, the ocean) to cultivate new business ideas;

4.     “Supporting and expanding the creative economy and arts sector;”

5.     Expanding farms and farming partnerships with businesses for visitor experiences and the expansion of the agricultural sector.

And finally

via Exiting Conditions Analysis Report


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