A crucial building block for the revitalization of Waterville fell into place this week as a Massachusetts-based IT consulting firm, partnering with Colby, announced Wednesday that it will open a new center in the city’s downtown, creating 200 jobs.
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Collaborative Consulting will open the center in January in the culmination of a process that included extensive discussions with President David A. Greene and others about Waterville’s strengths as a burgeoning center of higher education and the arts, and the promise of a partnership with Colby.
The announcement came at a packed news conference in Page Commons as state and local officials, Collaborative executives, area residents, and Colby employees and students turned out.
Collaborative’s move comes amid the College’s expanding role as a key catalyst for revitalization of Waterville’s historic downtown in a partnership that includes city and cultural leaders, business owners, and private investors. “This city has so much to offer,” Greene said, “and it’s gratifying that Collaborative Consulting was attracted to Waterville for the reasons so many of us are—three colleges, a growing arts and cultural focus, a Main Street with terrific potential.”
He said when Colby began working with others in the city on redevelopment of the downtown, it was clear that sustained economic development would be critical to the success of the investments. “Introducing two hundred jobs in Waterville will have a tremendous impact on efforts currently underway to bring new vitality to downtown,” Greene said.
William C. Robichaud, founder and CEO of Collaborative Consulting, called the opening of the center in the city “a win-win situation” for the company and its clients, Colby College, and the people of Maine. “Waterville’s proximity to major urban markets and its talent pool won us over,” Robichaud said, “as did the opportunity to partner with Colby College and the state of Maine.”
Colby will help defray the company’s start-up costs, and the company will offer internships and job opportunities for students and graduates, Greene said.
Robichaud said Colby’s president was “an enormous reason” for the company expanding to Waterville. The city was Collaborative’s second choice, he said, until Greene entered into discussions with the tech firm. “The man wouldn’t take ‘no'” for an answer, Robichaud said.
In recent months Colby has stepped in to jump-start redevelopment of Waterville’s historic downtown, buying several properties and announcing plans for student housing and a boutique hotel. Collaborative Waterville, which will help provide digital business solutions to the company’s clients across the country, will be located in the Hathaway Creative Center just south of an area of Main Street where Colby has purchased key downtown buildings.
Collaborative Consulting’s partnership with Colby will include internships for students and training and professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. Additionally, students from Thomas College and Kennebec Valley Community College will see opportunities for technology and business skills education through this collaboration.
Greene credited Gov. Paul R. LePage for his support throughout the process. LePage, speaking at the conference, hailed the news, saying the state has been working to attract just such tech companies to Maine. The partnership between Collaborative Consulting and Colby, with the resulting high-paying jobs and careers, will add “another chapter to the growing success and revitalization of the city of Waterville,” LePage said. Colby, he said, has been a friend of and partner with the city of Waterville for 200 years, “but this president has brought it to a new level.”
The Collaborative Consulting move to Waterville is a model, the governor said, for economic progress that can result when there is collaboration between private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
Collaborative Consulting’s first domestic solution center opened in Wausau, Wis., in January 2012. The first CDSC underscored the benefits of domestic centers for IT solutions, namely manageable time zones and improved innovation, efficiency, and quality. To date Collaborative Consulting has hired 125 employees in Wausau.
The Waterville center will open in January with the first wave of 30 employees.