The Island Institute works with communities, local non-profits, and town officials to help facilitate thoughtful planning around a sustainable economic future. We help support economic planning discussions in coastal and island communities.

We strive to thoroughly investigate challenges in rural, coastal communities and help to identify potential solutions that work within the context of, and respect the identity of these communities. Ideas about how to create a sustainable economic future vary from community to community, and we tailor our approach for working with each community as they define and implement their own unique visions about their economic future.

In 2014, the Island Institute worked with community leaders on Chebeague Island to hold the SustainME Conference, which focused on promoting entrepreneurship in island communities. The event was a resounding success with over 160 attendees from all over Maine. We also helped facilitate economic planning discussions in several communities, and we commissioned Portland-based Planning Decisions, Inc., to work with the communities of North Haven and Vinalhaven to create community economic development strategy reports.

In 2016, we commissioned the Report on Maine's General Stores, which describes the threats to general stores and ways that these important community assets can continue to be viable into the future. Following this report, we are working with community leaders and other interested residents of the St. George Peninsula, to brainstorm next steps for defining their own community economic development strategy.

We work with the Island Institute Community Development program to support leaders with financial and economic training, including a recent series of seminars for island and remote coastal non-profits.

Brian Kraftjack


Community Economic Planning Across Islands

Through a series of economic discussions, we realized that there is a commonality across communities: Most of Maine’s year-round islands lack reliable and fast internet service. Many of these islands have identified improved access to high-speed internet as an essential tool in attracting and maintaining year-round residents, and encouraging economic growth. Check out our Broadband Resource Page to learn more about this challenge and access resources to address it.