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September 20, 2017

With funding in place, FocusMaine hires its first full-time leader

About FocusMaine

FocusMaine aims to stimulate the growth of between 5,000 to 12,000 direct traded jobs (primarily engaging in exports from Maine) and 14,000 to 32,000 indirect jobs (supplier and supports) in its signature sectors over the course of the next 10 years.

FocusMaine, through its Knowledge Worker Initiative, is committed to fostering, growing, and attracting the talent critical to support the workforce requirements of these traded sectors, as well as increasing Maine's overall workforce capacity.

FocusMaine, an economic development effort launched by business leaders two years ago, has has hired its first president.

Kimberly A. Hamilton, a North Yarmouth native who has worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and most recently served as chief impact officer at Feeding America, will start her new role in late October, according to a news release.

At the same time, the organization said it has raised nearly $6.6 million for the first three years of its implementation plan.

A key part of that was a $4.9 million matching grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. It also received a grant from the Maine Technology Institute. It plans to secure additional funding by next year.

FocusMaine, which was launched publicly in January 2016, has a 10-year strategy to create "quality" Maine jobs and increase worker capacity by focusing on three industry sectors: Agriculture, aquaculture and biopharmaceuticals.

"FocusMaine is excited to have begun working with our partner organizations on the full scope of our plan, beginning in the early years with building the foundation necessary for creating meaningful jobs and accelerating growth in our signature sectors," said Michael Dubyak, former CEO of WEX Inc. and co-chair of FocusMaine. "We are confident our leadership, vision, collaboration with our partners, and long-term commitment to seeing this 10-year effort succeed, which really differentiates FocusMaine, will result in increased economic opportunity for Maine."

"Entering this implementation phase is the transition from research and planning into action, which is the critical step to achieving our long-term mission," said FocusMaine co-chair Andrea Cianchette Maker, a partner at the law firm Pierce Atwood and a Mainebiz 2016 Woman to Watch honoree.

FocusMaine partner organizations include the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Maine Aquaculture Association, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Coastal Enterprises Inc. and Maine & Co.

With Hamilton at the helm, FocusMaine can establish services, programs and resources to attract, recruit and support new investment, address growth barriers and improve access to growth capital, the nonprofit said. The organization will also provide accelerator and mentorship programs and develop management and analytical tools to aid businesses in the identified sectors.

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