KJ interviews McConnon about Maine craft, artisan industries

Jim McConnon, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension specialist and professor of economics at UMaine, spoke with the Kennebec Journal for an article about the 38th annual Fall Holiday Arts and Craft Fair that was held in Augusta. McConnon, who studies small businesses with 1–5 employees, said these businesses make up more than a fifth of the state’s employment, which is higher than the national average. Many of the businesses at the craft fair would fall into this category, according to the article. McConnon said he has worked with artisans to help thoughtfully price their products at workshops with the Maine Crafts Association. “Somebody that’s in competition can manufacture in China for about a tenth of how I get it done. It’s expensive to manufacture in the United States, but it’s worth it because … Maine people made those,” he said. The craft industry thrives in Maine, McConnon added, because people are willing to spend the extra money for a quality product and that artisan industries also get a bump from Maine tourists.