August 10, 2006
700 jobs now located at Oakland site largely due to T-Mobile 'coup'
Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
WATERVILLE – Five years into FirstPark’s 20-year plan in Oakland, development is on target with about 25 percent of goals met, said Executive Director Leonard Dow.
“We set a goal of 2,500-3,000 new jobs in 20 years. With T-Mobile employing 630 and about 70 employees in other businesses, we are at 700 – about 25 percent of our goal.”
“We expected to generate about $200 million worth of buildings by the end of 20 years and we are at $25M now – on our way.”
“We have 24 lots for sale and we’ve sold six so far – another 25 percent.”
FirstPark finished its first road projects in 2001, Dow said. That was just before the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City that “put us into a temporary recession,” he said.
“We always understood that filling the first lots would be the most difficult. As we continue to fill lots, we will reach a point where the last ones available will be very attractive to businesses who want to join a success story and should fill easily.”
Dow is quick to admit that the decision by T-Mobile to locate at FirstPark was a “coup” for Maine.
“We were not even on their radar screen when they first considered potential states for expansion,” Dow said.
“Thanks to some personal relationships between Mainers and T-Mobile, they agreed to come up and take a look at us as a favor.
“They liked what they saw and accepted our offer.”
They are now doing very well compared to other T-Mobile sites. They have high efficiency and productivity and low turnover.”
As of June 14, the statistics on T-Mobile demonstrate the impact of the company, and FirstPark, on the state of Maine.
“They are hiring about 25 new people per month,” Dow said. “Of the current 630 employees, 406 (64.4 percent) come from our member communities. And 22 of 24 member communities have residents working at T-Mobile. Overall, the company has employees from 92 different Maine Communities and from 12 of the state’s 16 counties, including an employee from Aroostook County. And one employee resides out of state. Pretty remarkable.”
It all goes to show, Dow said, that FirstPark was planned well from the very beginning.
“Our people are the most important factor in our success to date. But it was also right to build near the interstate highway. It was wise to do the pre-permitting we did to make the par business friendly. Our infrastructure is suitable, and our telecommunications services meet the needs of today’s business.”
FirstPark is also doing well by its member communities, Dow said.
The 24 communities made a commitment to fund the park’s budget from the beginning with the expectation that those assessments would decrease over time and reach a break-even point in seven or eight years.
“The income we generate each year goes against our budget, set at $422,000 next year. We return 75 percent of that income to the communities. We retain 25 percent of income for expenses, development and marketing and other costs.”
“Our income represents taxes on real estate and personal property at FirstPark based on Oakland’s tax rate that accrue to FirstPark. This year Oakland’s tax rate decreased to 12.6 mills, so that affects our income.
“Nevertheless, we anticipate a distribution of more than $220,000 to our members and about $78,000 to our reserve account.”
“We have also built out the road to T-Mobile’s site, added 6,500 linear feet of roadway in the park, about half of the 13,500 feet we estimate will be needed eventually.”
Completing the 20-year plan will require a lot more effort, Dow said, speaking realistically.
“Marketing is a major objective for us. We tried to do it with a single person as our marketer. That was too much for one person. We have now contracted with The Boulos Company of Portland to handle our marketing, a move that gives us 2orld-wide exposure. We invest $150,000 in marketing each year. That is a very modest amount compared to other cities and regions. We believe we are doing our best with what we have, and we are getting results. While T-Mobile is important and will, we hope, help attract other major tenants, we are also pleased to have local business and professional services locate here, starting with our first tenant: Perry Fitts Boulette & Fitton.”
Since then, many familiar names are now part of the FirstPark roster:
Diane M. Gable, MD; Caccamo Investments; Dr. Geria; Hawkins Medical Associates; C.V. Diagnostics; Teresa J. Farrington, DO; Maine Cardiology Associates; Aqua Maine; GE Comm. Equip. Holding, LLC; NORDx Laboratory Services; Encompass Marketing & Design; Williams Scotman Inc; GHE Capital Information Tech; FirstPark Family Practice; Charles Sullivan, DO: Michael R. Nawfel, DMD; Neurosurgery Associations, PA: Dr. Richard Sampson, DPM; Surgi-Care Inc and Omnipoint Communications, Inc.