'Undiscovered Maine' exploring economic development within Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - We all know tourism is one of Maine's largest industries.

The state says is supported more than 100,000 jobs in 2018 alone.

A group of students at the University of Maine is hoping to make that number grow, starting with a research project.

"It involves a lot of research. It involves marketing. It involves logistics,” explained Senior Economics and Management Major, Austin Cashamn.

Since 2007, about a dozen University of Maine students and faculty have made it their mission to learn more about tourism and economic development here in Maine.

Cashman started on the project as a freshman.

"Over the course of four years, it has really taken off and really become its own being,” said Cashman.

It's a research project they call Undiscovered Maine.

The goal of Undiscovered Maine is to help students learn web and social media strategies, whole helping small businesses in undeserved areas here in Maine.

"We want to communicate with more small businesses. In fact, next month we are doing a trip to Aroostook County and we are hoping to meet with a few small businesses to learn their successes and challenges and see if there are certain ways we can help them,” explained Dr. Nory Jones of Undiscovered Maine.

With less than one percent of travelers nationally coming to Maine, the group believes there is room to grow our overall tourism base.

While most people know about Maine's beaches, lighthouses, and lobsters, they are focused on showcasing three regions: Aroostook County, the Down East region, and many areas in the western lakes and mountains.

"We visited all three regions in the last year and half just so we can see it with our own two eyes,” said Cashman.

We caught up with them Thursday at the State House. They were there networking with lawmakers and sharing their research.

"If we can get to know a couple of senators and the legislators in our area that would be definitely helpful because it can give us a different approach to accomplishing the same goal that we have,” explained Cashman.

Their hope is that meeting with lawmakers will help them be more productive and effective in helping small businesses.

To learn more about the work being done by Undiscovered Maine you can visit their website: https://umaine.edu/undiscoveredmaine/.

Courtesy: Undiscovered Maine