New vision for HospitalityMaine launched at Bangor summit
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Posted by: Kathleen Pierce
BANGOR, Maine — Hospitality leaders from across the state gathered in Bangor in late October to underscore the power of hotels and restaurants to drive Maine’s growing economy.
Addressing a room of more than 200 at the Cross Insurance Center, HospitalityMaine’s CEO Steve Hewins shared results of a new University of Maine study that reveals the crucial impact that the Hospitality Sector, which includes restaurants, lodging establishments and related businesses, deliver to the Pine Tree State.
According the report: the sector generated $6.5 billion in gross economic output and over $650 million in local and state taxes in 2017 and employed over 77,000 people.
The newly defined hospitality sector employs one out of 10 Mainers, and Hewins made the case for hospitality to be recognized for its preeminent role as a force vital to the state’s identity and economy.
“Even with immigration woes, this industry is driving Maine’s economy,” said Hewins. “We are the keeper of the Maine brand and the tip of spear for economic development. Hospitality can enliven older downtowns and help to energize rural communities.”
But job vacancies continue to plague the industry as it expands. The UMaine report identifies approximately 3,700 hospitality job vacancies across the state, with 80 percent labeled hard to fill.
The state’s new nonprofit trade group HospitalityMaine, merged from the former Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association, is leading the charge in developing the workforce to fill the pipeline on which the state’s growing future depends.
A game-changing two-track apprenticeship program to train students for careers in culinary arts and hospitality services was announced along side partners from the Maine Department of Labor and Maine Community College System.
The summit ended with a upbeat keynote from Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, the dynamic quadriplegic war veteran who fought in Afghanistan and now co-owns Lakeside Motel and Cabins in Winthrop and a retreat for veterans in Rome.