Colby’s commitment to economic development in Waterville and in Maine got a boost this week with an exciting initiative by the Harold Alfond Foundation to offer student loan-debt reduction to Maine workers.

The program, called “Alfond Leaders,” will offer debt reduction to up to 50 Maine science, technology, engineering, and math workers per year. It will help Maine businesses attract and retain highly skilled employees for years to come.

Celebrating the launch of the innovative Alfond Leaders program are, left to right, David A. Greene, president of Colby College; Bruce Wagner, CEO of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME); Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation; Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine; Ned Hammond, senior vice president of U.S. global infrastructure services and onshore delivery, CGI Group; Melissa Smith, CEO of WEX.

The announcement was made at 173 Main Street in Waterville, the Colby-owned new home of CGI, an international software consulting firm that has committed to 200 new jobs in the city. Colby, in partnership with the city and other leaders, including the Harold Alfond Foundation, attracted Collaborative Consulting to Waterville last year as a critical first step in the revitalization of downtown. CGI acquired Collaborative last year and has fully committed to making Waterville its Northeast hub.

“It’s no accident that we are unveiling this statewide program from this renovated downtown building in the city of Waterville,” said Greg Powell, Harold Alfond Foundation chairman. “Thanks to the leadership of Colby College, the investment of CGI, and the commitment of hundreds of other businesses and individuals, Waterville is now officially on the road to a renaissance.”

The Alfond Leaders will be residents or people who become Maine residents upon being hired by a Maine-based employer. They must be in a designated STEM occupation and have a higher-ed degree or certificate.

Alfond Leaders may qualify for loan repayment up to half of their outstanding student loan balance at the time of application to the program, not to exceed $60,000. Awards will be paid in two installments, the first after five years of qualifying employment and the second after an additional five years of employment.

“The Alfond Leaders program is just what Maine needs,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “It will encourage recent college graduates to make Maine their home, and innovative companies to grow their businesses here. This program will accelerate our efforts in Waterville to strengthen the local economy and expand job opportunities.”

Greene emphasized the critical partnership of CGI, pointing to the surrounding building as evidence of Waterville’s renewal. Colby’s work in Waterville was critical to the company’s decision to locate in Waterville. “CGI had a lot of different options. We’re thrilled that they made a commitment to staying here and growing great jobs in central Maine.” The College has invested $45 million in downtown Waterville and, Greene said, “there’s more to come.

“Two years from now, this downtown area is going to feel different, alive, energetic… people living here, working here,” he said. “We’re excited to be able to support this and thrilled that we have been in partnership with the Harold Alfond Foundation to make this happen.”

The crowd gathered at 173 Main Street applauds the announcement of the Alfond Leaders program.

Among the more than 100 guests at the announcement were Austin Nantkes ’19 and Robert Durst ’19, who were among four Colby computer science majors to win paid summer internships at CGI following a Jan Plan fellowship at the company. After a competition to use cutting-edge technology in solving a real-world problem, all four Jan Plan fellows (also including Robbie DeAngelo ’19 and Christopher Marcello ’19) were awarded the summer jobs at CGI.