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Updated: September 30, 2019 / 2019 Next List Honorees

Northern exposure: Championing Maine’s interests in the North Atlantic

Dana Eidsness PHOTo / Tim Greenway Dana Eidsness, director of the Maine International Trade Center’s Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO)

As director of Maine International Trade Center’s Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO), Dana Eidsness works to develop trade, investment and international collaboration opportunities for Maine businesses and academic institutions in northern Europe, Atlantic Canada and Nordic countries.

Mainebiz: What triggered your interest in the international field?

Dana Eidsness: When I was a kid, my parents sold everything we had and bought a red pick-up truck with a camper on the back and we traveled for a couple of years. At one point we lived on a beach in Manzanillo, Mexico, and later in Mexico City. Later at Portland High School, I was fortunate to be exposed to a variety of international history courses as well as a robust foreign language program where I studied French, Russian and Mandarin. The summer before my senior year, I went to Beijing to study Mandarin. I went on to study international service and development and then international relations and import/export management in college, started my career in the private sector importing consumer goods and textiles, and later moved into international business development and trade policy.

MB: What do you consider your greatest accomplishments at MENADO?

DE: In 2016, Maine hosted Arctic Council Meetings throughout the state, including a senior Arctic officials meeting in Portland. MENADO advocated to have Arctic Council meetings in Maine, and assembled and managed a host committee of over 100 Mainers that ranged from business people to academics to students and retired citizens — all volunteers and sponsors who supported the visit of approximately 400 Arctic officials from the eight Arctic nations and 33 observer nations over a two month period. MENADO coordinated 22 Arctic Council-related meetings across the state, from Portland to Bar Harbor. It was awesome. Very recently, I was invited to lead the Blue Economy Initiative for the Arctic Economic Council, based in Tromso, Norway, and I’m now establishing a working group. This initiative aims to facilitate a pan-Arctic alliance of ocean clusters to leverage the knowledge, expertise and funding instruments throughout the region to fast-track product development and economic growth in the sector.

MB: Are there any examples of missed opportunities for Maine companies?

DE: I would call it a delayed opportunity. MENADO has been engaging with Greenland for six years trying to figure out how we can do business. Because of a partnership between Eimskip and Greenland’s Royal Arctic Line, there will be weekly ocean cargo service between Maine and Greenland beginning in 2020. I’ve been working to position Maine as a supply-chain partner for Greenland’s many infrastructure projects that are coming on line. We have quality products, priced competitively, and will soon have logistics in place that will make us even more competitive.

MB: What are your long-term professional ambitions?

DE: Climate change is really the only thing that matters now, and I want my future professional contributions to support resilience efforts and solutions. With my background in business, economic development and trade policy, I think I’d have something to offer.

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