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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is Maine a Good Place to Start a Business?

Question: I know you've talked about living in Maine a lot, and you really love it there. But is it a great place to start a business?
E.L. Delray Beach FL

Answer Marc Charles:

My answer is two-fold. Maine is a great place to live, work and run a "digital business". But its not a great place to start a bricks and mortar type business - or anything retail.

A former governor referred to Maine as the "next Switzerland". Maine is about as far form Switzerland as you can get. The government is fat and lazy, there's almost no privacy when it comes to business or banking, the regulations are absolutely ridiculous, and finding highly skilled workers is almost impossible...unless you live in Portland or Augusta...and even that's pushing it.

When I first moved here in 1993 I traded commodity futures full time. Almost no one I met or hung out with knew what commodity futures were...they thought I sold insurance!

And so the Maine culture always come into play. Most of the people who live in Maine full time are from Maine. The people from "away" who live here are typically here part time...and tend to congregate on the coast.

There's also a segment of Maine which caters to the super-rich. These are not millionaires or multi-millionaires...I'm talking about the super-rich. These people look on Maine residents as "amusements"...kind of like going to LL Bean and hearing someone with a Maine accent.

I know of three super-rich hedge fund managers who recently built mega-estates between Lincolnville Beach and Rockport. One of these guys ruined the view of one of the most breathtaking farms in the order to build his house.

I'm not ranting about the super-rich....or building homes on the ocean. But there is almost 3,500 miles of coastline, and this guy builds right in front of a historic farm.

If the focus of your business is online -- or web-based, in conjunction with phones and teleconfercing, Maine is unlike anywhere else in the world.

However, the untouched beauty is almost too good to be true. The air, lakes and woods are breathtaking, and the weather is fairly mild on the coast.

Well....I hope that helps.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.




  1. Marc,

    As a frequent reader of ETR, and as a fellow Mainer I thought it was about time to check out this blog. I'm impressed. Seems like you have successfully created the "professional life" that I aspire to. I am sure it is seldom easy but the rewards are worth it. My hobby as a somewhat successful real estate investor keeps the bills paid it isn't where my heart is.

    As for your bit above about Maine, you are right. I was fortunate enough to marry into a very successful Maine business family but a physical business in Maine is not for the weak minded. The morass of regulations and taxation is not business friendly in the least. But if you either marry well (as I did! :-) or run a profitable on line biz then it is tough to beat the perks of living in such a diverse state. Having grown up in Vermont I appreciate the New England lifestyle and the ruggedness of this state.

    As for the über-rich, while the coast definitely has their share of them I can say that the Belgrade Lakes region definitely isn't lacking either! If you are ever in the region let me know and I'll get you a cup of coffee and a boat ride around Great Pond for the ability to pick your brain!


  2. Hey BK:

    Thanks for your comments and post!

    It's great to hear from a follower Mainer.

    We've lived on the coast of Maine since 1993, and love it. We prefer warmer climates in the winter though.

    I think Maine is headed into becoming a "third world" least in theory.

    One statistic you will never read about is the actual number of entrepreneurs and businesses moving to's close to zero. owned small and medium sized businesses is the ONLY reason Maine has not been ruined.

    And granted...... a few larger businesses are still located here.

    But anyone with any common sense would not move their business or corporation to Maine.

    There's a vibrant "underground" of entrepreneurs and freelancers but most of these stay off the radar and out of sight.

    It's sad to see a state like Maine, which used to stand for rugged individualism, freedom, and other things, turn into a third world "socialist" state.

    The largest employer is government...that should tell you something. Next in line is education bureaucrats.

    But I love it here...just stay clear of politics and religion.

    Belgrade Lakes Region is breathtaking. We've done some great fishing up there.

    Talk to you soon!


    Marc Charles