Maine is known for its lobsters, blueberries, potatoes, cheeses, broccoli, craft beer and many other food and beverage products. But its food cluster represents much more than these locally-grown and produced foods and beverages. The multiplier effect of these sales and jobs boost the economic impact of Maine’s food-related activity industries and contribute to Maine’s prosperity. And beyond these economic impacts, Maine’s food cluster contributes to the nutrition and health of the state’s residents, the productive use of its land, sea and human resources, and its quality of life.

The Maine Food Cluster Project will carry out an analysis of Maine’s food cluster and make recommendations for how the state can strengthen the competitiveness of its food industries, thereby boosting its economic vitality.  The analysis will include data on Maine's economic performance and its food and agriculture industries, views of farmers, harvesters of seafood and other food-related company leaders on Maine's business climate, the roles of organizations that are working to strengthen Maine's food cluster, and other U.S. and global regions that have been successful at accelerating food industry growth.

The project draws on the Harvard Business School Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness’s deep knowledge about clusters and regional economic growth and the Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government’s expertise on social and economic issues that bridge the private sector and public policy. Funding for the project will come from the proceeds of the Fitzgerald Endowment, a gift from the Libra Foundation to the Kennedy School with the purpose of informing issues of importance to Maine.

The project seeks to answer the following questions:

• How is Maine’s food cluster performing and what are its trends?

• What can Maine learn from other states’ and nations’ efforts to strengthen their clusters, particularly their food clusters?

• What regional assets, organizations and policies can be leveraged to grow economic activity in Maine’s food industries? What cluster strengthening activities are already taking place?

• What actions can the private sector, government and other partners take to boost Maine’s food cluster, grow jobs and increase revenues? How could these leaders work together to maximize the competitiveness of the cluster?

Senior Advisors to the project are John Haigh, Executive Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government; Karen Mills, Senior Fellow with the John F. Kennedy School of Government and with Harvard Business School; and Prof. Michael Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School.