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What makes a great place to live and work? Maine
      Maine lighthouse photo

 
(ARA) - As the summer season reaches its sunny peak, thousands of tourists flock to the state of Maine to unwind on its rocky coastline, breathe in the crisp mountain air and hike through emerald forests in search of grazing moose. But few tourists are

aware that Maine offers much more than just a great vacation -- it's also the perfect place to live, work and raise a family. Maine's not just "Worth a Visit," but "Worth a Lifetime" as well, and that's just what the people at the Department of Economic and Community Development want summer travelers to know.

"Maine's employment opportunities abound in a variety of business fields," says John Butera, director of the Maine Office of Business Development. "Maine's industries offer all the optimal career advantages and benefits, and with our state-of-the-art telecommunications network, we are totally connected to the rest of the world."

A leader in advanced telecommunications and industry support services, Maine provides both its employers and its employees with an excellent business environment. Outside the workplace, it's also a cost-effective and beautiful place to live and raise a family. The state recently ranked first in the U.S. in primary education by the National Education Goals Panel, as well as the best state to raise children by the Children's Rights Council. In 1999, Maine also had the fourth lowest crime rate in the nation and the lowest average home price in New England.

Hundreds of companies and thousands of job seekers have invested in Maine to find financial success and a terrific way of life. Fairchild Semiconductor International is just one such story of business success. A respected leader and global supplier of high performance technical products, Fairchild chose South Portland, Maine, as its corporate headquarters.

It comes as no surprise that the company was recently named as one of the 20 best employers in the electronics industry by a study performed by Cahners Research and published in the Electronics Industry's Movers and Shakers 2001 magazine. Given Fairchild's approach to employee recruitment, training, retention, competitive compensation programs and benefits, Cahners chose the company as a top-performing employer from more than 10,000 other businesses in the industry.

Kirk Pond, Fairchild's chairman, president and chief executive officer, has said, "We are proud of the unique and innovative programs we have developed to hire and retain a world-class, motivated employee base. Our employees are the best of the best, and their competence has been borne out by Fairchild's record in its first four years."

Fairchild's 11,000 employees worldwide indeed get the job done, as proven by yet another honor for the company. Business Week selected Fairchild as one of the 100 best performing technology companies in the world in their annual "Info Tech 100" issue last June. Fairchild was chosen from over 10,000 tech companies worldwide as a leader in the field of information technology.
But Fairchild isn't the only business to reap the benefits of their Maine location. Situated in Maine's Aroostook County, ATX Forms, Inc., a creator of tax management software, has seen their growth rate skyrocket over the past five years. In 2000, the Caribou, Maine firm was recognized by Inc. Magazine - for the third year in a row -- as one of America's fastest-growing companies. Business giants such as Verizon, General Motors and Southwestern Bell are only a few of the 40,000 clients currently using software generated by ATX.

Brothers and co-founders Steve and Glynn Willett's "emotional" attachment to Maine spurred their relocation to the state where they lived and worked as young adults. When they brought ATX from New York back to Maine in 1998 to pair a "fun working culture" with an "unusually productive work environment" -- and a $48,000 starting salary -- many residents told their children to come home to northern Maine and to ATX. As a result, the company tripled its programming staff, and now employs 120 people in its Caribou offices.

The strong work ethic of ATX's Maine team results in high productivity for the company, and employees' efforts garner big rewards. ATX programmers appreciate their individual offices, and all staffers enjoy the in-house ping-pong and pool tables as well as regular company whitewater rafting trips. The company's owners credit much of their consistent and rapid growth to their creative and dedicated workforce.

ATX has even come up with novel ideas to promote business growth while simultaneously revitalizing Caribou's downtown community. To generate an increase in customers, ATX offered a finder's fee to anyone in the town who successfully brought in a new client to the company. With this innovative plan to involve the community in sales leads, ATX hopes to benefit the city of Caribou as well as all those who want to live and work in Aroostook County.

Though a world away from taxes and semiconductors, Tom's of Maine shares the common thread of success with companies like Fairchild and ATX. Uniting moral values and social responsibility with good business sense, the world-famous manufacturer of natural personal care products has become the largest of its kind over the past 30 years.

A beacon of excellent business stewardship, Tom's of Maine has always built its relationships with consumers and employees on the basis of shared values. Working Mother magazine recently voted Tom's of Maine as one of the "100 Best Companies" for working mothers on the basis of the company's dedication to flexible work hours, health insurance premiums and paid leave for new parents -- even fathers. Other benefits for employees include free financial planning services, stress prevention workshops and reimbursement for wellness classes outside the workplace.

Tom's of Maine also encourages its 150 employees to serve the community on a personal basis as well. Five percent of their staff's paid work time is spent as volunteerism in the community, at local schools, animal shelters and other organizations.
The company's values extend even further than its customers and business partners. Tom's of Maine donates ten percent of its pre-taxed profits to charitable causes, and recently announced the implementation of The National Rivers Awareness Program, geared towards the education of river and watershed preservation. In partnership with national rivers and conservation organizations, Tom's of Maine aims to communicate to consumers the importance of keeping water clear and clean for future generations.

Another company focused on the great outdoors is L.L. Bean, headquartered in Freeport, Maine, since its humble beginnings in 1912. Now a world leader in outdoor gear, home furnishings and clothing, L.L. Bean's net sales exceeded $1.1 billion in 2000. With locations in Portland, Ellsworth and Brunswick, Maine, L.L. Bean employs approximately 4,000 people year-round, and extends its staff to 10,000 during the peak holiday season. The company attracts and retains its vital staff through a number of special programs, bonuses and benefits.

In addition to flex vacation, dental insurance and a 401(k) retirement savings plan, L.L. Bean offers numerous advantages for employees who like to spend a lot of time enjoying the great Maine outdoors. Generous employee discounts, an employee store and the chance to use one of the company's seven camps on Maine's Rangeley Lake are just a few benefits of working for the renowned retailer of outdoor goods.

L.L. Bean also encourages its workers to share the wealth by participating in company community service. Keeping the outdoor environment in mind as well as the outdoor gear, hundreds of employees have helped to maintain the largest section of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. The company is also dedicated to improving the quality of life for employees, their families and community, having donated nearly $10 million to non-profit organizations over the last decade.

These businesses are just a few of many that have found markets, production, great employees and success in Maine. And as new businesses sprout and existing companies continue to expand in the state, so will the employment opportunities. In fact, several of Maine's industries are currently looking for educated and driven people to join their staff, and offering high salaries and remarkable benefits to attract prospective employees. Add to that Maine's thriving, close-knit communities, array of recreational opportunities, a diverse culture steeped in history, high quality school systems and low cost of living, and you've got the perfect combination for a place that's not only "worth a visit, but worth a lifetime."

"Our economy is evolving," Butera stated. "We are focusing on the industries and technologies that promise exponential growth in the years to come, and we are looking for motivated people to fill the jobs that are available, now and in the future."
For further information about Maine's business climate and career opportunities, check out www.econdevmaine.com or call (207) 624-9804.
Courtesy of ARA Content,
www.ARAcontent.com, e-mail: infoARAcontent.com.



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