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March 8, 2019

Mills, Collins cite jobs, contributions of women at WEX ribbon-cutting

PETER VAN ALLEN
PETER VAN ALLEN
Melissa Smith, president and CEO of WEX Inc., speaks to Michael Dubyak, chairman of WEX and Smith's predecessor as CEO, and Liz Cotter Schlax (back to camera) at the ribbon cutting for the new WEX headquarters in Portland.
PETER VAN ALLEN
WEX Inc. opened its new headquarters on Hancock Street in Portland on Friday.

WEX Inc. headquarters

WEX's move to downtown Portland from South Portland will bring 400 new jobs to the city; its operations center will continue to be in South Portland, with more than 1,000 jobs remaining in that city. WEX (NYSE: WEX) is Maine's second-largest publicly traded company (behind IDEXX Laboratories) and has annual sales of $1.25 billion. WEX has 4,700 employees worldwide.

The new 102,000-square-foot office building on Portland's waterfront that will house the headquarters of the payment processing provider WEX Inc. was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting that drew Gov. Janet Mills and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

WEX's move to downtown Portland from South Portland will bring 400 new jobs to the city; its operations center will continue to be in South Portland, with more than 1,000 jobs remaining in that city. WEX (NYSE: WEX) is Maine's third-largest publicly traded company (behind Covetrus and IDEXX Laboratories) and has annual sales of $1.25 billion. WEX has 4,700 employees worldwide.

Mills, speaking before about 125 who attended the event Friday morning, emphasized the jobs the new WEX location represents, and the push to bring Mainers into the workforce.

Mills said 3,800 people applied for 50 internships with the company last year; 32 of those went to people from Maine.

She cited the "unquestionable boon" the headquarters brings to the area economy, and said that, aside from the high-paying jobs for Mainers, it's also bringing new people to Maine.

Collins, who spoke before Mills, got a laugh when she said, "I'm from your biggest customer, the federal government."

Looking around the sun-filled foyer of the building, she added, "Do you have room for my office on the second floor?"

U.S. Sen. Angus King, who spoke by video, said: "Here's a phrase I love: 'Global corporate headquarters.'"

Friday is International Women's Day, and Collins made a point of noting that the governor, senator and WEX's president and CEO, Melissa Smith, are all women.

Room to grow

The $15 million building, by developer Jonathan Cohen, at 0 Hancock, was built by Cianbro of Pittsfield. WEX is leasing 80,000 square feet of the space and started moving in early last month. It will operate as both accommodations for the corporate office and as an innovation hub for the global fleet, corporate payments and technology teams.

The move Portland presence provides the company with more space to better accommodate its growing business and employee needs, Smith said in a news release.

"WEX has seen tremendous growth and we continue to embrace new opportunities," said Smith in a news release before the ribbon-cutting. "We will evaluate a variety of options to meet our office space needs in the Greater Portland area that align with our growth expectations. Part of WEX's unique culture comes from our roots in Maine, and we are looking forward to celebrating our new space with the community."

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