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February 23, 2009


Marketing students from the University of Maine at Fort Kent will conduct a survey of spectators attending this year’s Can-Am Crown Sled Dog Races in Fort Kent.  The survey is being conducted as part of the St. John Valley Creative Economy Project.   

The St. John Valley Creative Economy Project is a research and planning initiative coordinated by the University of Maine System through its campuses in Orono and Fort Kent. 

Officials from UMFK and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine in Orono meet regularly to advance the development of a creative economy business plan for the Valley.  

Twenty-three students in Assistant Professor of Business Leo Trudel’s “Principles of Marketing” (Bus 222) class will conduct an 18-question survey on Saturday, February 28 between 7:30 to 11 a.m., as the 30, 60 and 250-mile sled dog races begin on West Main Street.  The students also will conduct the survey later in the day at Lonesome Pine Trails, as the 30- and 60-mile races conclude Saturday afternoon.  

UMFK faculty and staff are working on student-conducted, visitor surveys at two of the major cultural events held in the St. John Valley: the Maine Winter Sports Center Biathlon World Cup and the Can-Am Crown.   

The St. John Valley Creative Economy Project is an outgrowth of an earlier forum on people working together as a region to identify new opportunities and alternative approaches to development.   At the heart of the concept is the Valley’s ability to capitalize on its strongest, renewable, and inherent resources:  artistic traditions, cultural heritage, and landscape. 

One of the primary objectives of the St. John Valley Creative Economy Project is to improve market information about visitors attending cultural and nature based events in the region. Visitor intercept surveys, like the one being conducted at the Can-Am, are designed to gain information on who is coming to the event, why they choose to attend, and how satisfied they are with their experience. This kind of information will help the project’s working team understand how the region could better position itself as a destination. 

The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center is providing technical assistance and planning for the project.  Local cultural consultant, Sheila Jans, from Madawaska is the project’s regional coordinator.  

The central aim of this project is to develop a Creative Economy plan for the St. John Valley that will: 

• Identify readiness for arts- and cultural-related business development and technical assistance needs;  

• Improve market information about visitors attending annual regional cultural events; • Develop a Creative Economy Plan for the Valley that focuses on developing and/or expanding arts- and cultural-related businesses and cultural tourism destinations; 

• Describe mechanisms for fostering rural innovation and entrepreneurship at UMFK and Valley residents, and, 

• Put forward concrete steps for the plan. 

Additionally, the plan will provide recommendations for strengthening the Valley’s capacity for regionally-based creative economy planning, and arts and cultural-related business and tourism development.   

The St. John Valley Creative Economy Project is funded by a United States Department of Agriculture rural development grant. It also has received additional funding from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and the Northern Forest Partnership Program.