Last Wednesday night, Ethan, Jacques and I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Maine Technology Institute’s (MTI) 10th Annual Mixer. In an earlier blog post we recounted a trip that Ethan and Jacques made to visit with the good folks at MTI. That post discussed facts and figures like the $14 of economic activity that MTI generates through every $1 that it puts to work through its programs. You can learn more by visiting the MTI website.
But the Mixer was about much more than facts and figures. It was hands-down one of the best parties that I’ve attended in a long, long time. The space at the Portland Company was beautifully laid out and filled throughout the evening with a tremendous buzz generated by the huge crowd that braved cold, soaking rain to attend. Kudos go to the entire MTI team for planning and executing such a great Mixer.
What the Mixer demonstrated more than any website, PowerPoint presentation or white paper ever could is that Maine truly has a business community. The term, business community, is as old and tired a cliche as you can find, but in a uniquely Maine way, we epitomize it here in the Pine Tree State. As I walked into the Mixer, I chatted with Kim Vandermeulen, the CEO of Alternative Manufacturing, Inc. (AMI) in Winthrop. Kim observed that he has personally known all but one of the Maine governors that have served during his career BEFORE they were elected governor. That observation is a perfect example of how Maine can lay claim to the “community” aspect of “business community.” And there’s no question that AMI embodies the “business” side of the term as well. The facts speak for themselves: $24.5 million in sales (over $7 million in overseas exports), 137 customers and 150 employee owners.
That’s what great about Maine — small enough to truly be a community but filled with many smart, capable business people who get the job done and love living here. The Mixer provided a great opportunity to meet or catch up with many of these folks. MTI is a nexus for Maine’s business community and an engine driving the types of success stories which will be crucial to our improving the economy of the state that we love so much.