PORTLAND, Maine — A former Republican candidate for governor will lead the state’s efforts to market its signature seafood around the globe.

Matt Jacobson, who ran in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, has been picked to be the first executive director of the recently formed Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, officials announced Tuesday.

Jacobson brings to his new position over 20 years in sales, marketing, and senior leadership positions, according to a prepared statement announcing his appointment.

From 2006 to 2011, he served as president and CEO of Maine & Company, a nonprofit business consulting and development organization. In the early 2000s, he built the Canadian National Railway’s intermodal business into a $1 billion a year enterprise. He also has served as president and chief operating officer of the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, where he led a 300 percent increase in revenue growth in three years, according to the release.

Jacobson is expected to assume his new duties on Monday, Aug. 18. He will take over responsibilities from Acting Executive Director Marianne Lacroix, who will remain with the collaborative in a supporting role.

Gov. Paul LePage said in the release that Jacobson is well suited to lead the marketing entity, which he said plays a “vital” role in promoting Maine lobster worldwide.

“Matt has a track record of accomplishment in business growth and development, and we look forward to his efforts to lead the Maine lobster industry into a new era of marketing and profitability,” LePage said.

The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative was formed in 2013 to replace the Maine Lobster Promotion Council. The new entity has more representation for fishermen on the board and, more significantly, has a much bigger budget. The old council had an annual budget of a few hundred thousand dollars but the new entity will have a budget that will rise to $2.25 million by 2016.

The increase in funding for the state’s lobster marketing efforts is necessary in order to compete with other global seafood marketing campaigns, industry officials have said.

Maine’s lobster fishery is by far the largest commercial fishery in the state and the largest lobster fishery in the country. Maine’s 6,000 or so commercial lobstermen had cumulative gross revenues of $364 million in 2013, while officials say the industry’s overall impact on the state’s economy is more than $1 billion.

Patrick Keliher, commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources, said Jacobson was an “outstanding selection” for the position.

Jacobson said he is honored and enthusiastic to begin.

“I’m tremendously excited and proud to support an industry and product that is so quintessentially Maine,” Jacobson said in the release. “I’ve loved Maine lobster all my life and now I have the privilege of working directly with the remarkable men and women who sustainably harvest this iconic Maine food.”

Among the efforts Jacobson will oversee in his new role is a three-year promotional campaign the collaborative has with the Culinary Institute of America.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....