FORT KENT — Gov. Paul LePage was in the St. John Valley on Friday for the grand opening of a new call center where he said the 90 jobs created stand as an example of his job creation policies.
“Nothing makes me prouder than to be Maine’s governor and to see new jobs created,” LePage said during a brief ceremony at the Ameridial call center. “It is showing Maine is not only a great place to visit, it’s a great place to work and do business.”
Ameridial offers teleservice voice and data support for its clients in multiple industries, including health care, education, financial services and consumer products.
The company took up residence last summer in the former MBNA building on Pleasant Street, which more recently was home to Synergy Solutions before that firm closed its Fort Kent center in 2010.
The building had been empty since.
Ameridial’s willingness to invest in the area shows that Maine is beginning to turn a corner with regard to jobs, LePage said.
“Since January 2011, when I was inaugurated governor, 8,000 new private sector jobs have been created,” he said. “In the entire decade previous to that there were a net 56 jobs created.”
Moreover, according to LePage, those jobs mean a better quality of life for Maine workers.
“Maine has had a 40-year struggle to become prosperous,” the governor said. “Government policies and the private sector need to be partners, not adversaries [and] government must move at the speed of business.”
LePage, who this week announced he is seeking a second term as governor, said he remains committed to fostering that partnership.
Creation of new positions within the state Department of Economic Development exemplifies that partnership, he said.
Companies and individuals looking to do business in Maine can contact the department, where employees will take care of any licensing and permits, he said.
“We will do the work for you,” LePage said. “All you need to worry about is your business plan.
“We have cut taxes [and] lowered the cost of doing business in Maine,” he said. “But we are just toying with that and we must continue to lower the costs of energy and of getting an education so the next generation is prepared and ready when a company like Ameridial comes knocking.”
Company President Mark Schmidt said when it was time to look into expanding into other areas, Fort Kent quickly rose to the top of the list because of the solid reputation of the work ethic in the St. John Valley.
“We had heard people speak of the work ethic here, so we thought, ‘All right, let’s go have a look,’” Schmidt said. “I have never seen the kind of support like what we have gotten in Fort Kent.”
Once word got out in town last summer that a company was interested in locating in the facility, an army of volunteers descended on the building to clean and spruce up the grounds before a single executive arrived.
“The number of business leaders who came up here and rolled up their sleeves to do everything from repair the wiring to mow the lawns was amazing,” Schmidt said.
The center handles customer service calls for 12 health care clients and things are about to get a lot busier, according to Schmidt.
“We are going to be up to 39 clients within two or three weeks,” he said. “We are absolutely here for the long haul.”