By Erin Place, Staff Writer
PARIS – It only took one beautiful fall afternoon on his future boss’s porch for Scott Larsen to realize he wanted to live and work in Maine.
This is one of the many reasons the Colorado transplant and chief information officer for Mingle Analytics in Paris is featured on the recently launched website, www. liveandworkinmaine.com. The website is designed to recruit top talent from across the country to come live and work in the Pine Tree State.
Ed McKersie, founder of Live + Maine, has been in the recruiting business for 30 years and was one of the original founders of JobsInME before the website sold in 2005. He is also a transplant, and came to Maine from Massachusetts in 1989.
There are two statewide problems he’s passionate about – stopping the flow of young people from fleeing the state for employment opportunities and increasing Maine’s shrinking workforce.
“We have done such a fabulous job as a tourist destination, but the idea of marketing ourselves as a career destination hasn’t been done,” McKersie said.
That’s why he made the website’s slogan, “Visit for aweek, stay for a lifetime.” And despite the governor’s and state’s efforts, McKersie said there’s the belief that Maine has a competitive disadvantage and isn’t businessfriendly.
“We have a perception problem and if we can get more people up here to check it out and build some momentum around that, it will go a long way to alleviate the problems we got,” he said.
And that’s what he is trying to do with his website. It was launched about a month ago and was a little late making its debut because so many companies wanted to sign on. McKersie expected five, maybe 15 businesses to make profiles for his website, but had to push back the launch date when 85 companies wanted to participate.
Live + Work in Maine has eight regional home pagesdedicated to the diverse areas in the state, each of which “has a different flavor to it.” McKersie tapped on economic development professionals and chambers of commerce across the state to add content to these sections of the site. It also features an employer database that showcases quality-of-life issues, such as health care, crime,
commuting distance and schools.
But the highlight of the website is the employers’ profiles, which feature videos. Larsen’s gives a brief version of how he and wife arrived in Oxford Hills.
But for the slightly less-abbreviated version, Larsen shared with the Sun Media Group a number things that pointed him toward Maine throughout his life, including his love of the movie, “Pete’s Dragon.” He noted the movie is set in Passamaquoddy, “in an unnamed state, or at least it was assumed – or I assumed – it was Maine.” Larsen has always loved lighthouses and wanted to see Maine’s rugged coastline. He is a huge fan of Stephen King, who lives and writes in Maine, where many of his stories are set.
But as life happened, Larsen didn’t make it to Maine until September 2013. He grew up in Cheyenne, Wyo., and for 25 years, raised his family in the Greater Denver area. His wife is retired from the military and suffers from a chronic pain disease which worsens with strong winds and temperature swings, something for which Denver is known. They wanted a rural setting with a more stable climate, and that opportunity was about to come.
Larsen got a call from Dr. Dan Mingle, a longtime independent physician who founded Mingle Analytics. They talked for several hours. Three months later, Larsen came to visit Mingle, informally interviewing for a job at the new company, and to check out Oxford Hills.
“We spent the afternoon on his porch talking,” Larsen recalled, noting Mingle had 100 acres of wild Maine land in Paris and alpacas roaming around on some of it. “We were sitting on his deck,looking out at the mountains in the background and the beautiful trees in September. It was exactly what my wife and I were looking for.” And Larsen had the tools to help Mingle grow his business, which specializes in helping independent medical practices to function and grow in a highly regulated environment where small practices are being gobbled up or pushed out by hospitalowned or large conglomerate practices. Mingle’s company also helps practices improve patient care, and from the time when Larsen arrived in February 2014, the company has grown from six employees to 40 employees across eight states.
Even though Mingle wanted his business to grow in rural Maine, he was afraid he would have tomove the technology office to Portland or Boston, Larsen said.
“When he brought me in, I said, ‘We can do this with remote work. We don’t need to move our headquarters. We can live and work here,'” Larsen recalled. “Rural America is disappearing – small towns are disappearing – Dan has this belief, too. If I can do anything to save rural America, I will.” He added it’s still an emerging practice to employ remote workers for small businesses, but it does have its advantages. Last February, heavy snow slammed the area, and employees weren’t able to get into the Paris office for a week. But work did not stop since they had the capability to work from home, Larsen said.
Live + Work in Maine also highlights employers offering internships and postgraduate career opportunities, something Mingle Analytics already does with Boston University. The plan, Larsen said, is to expand into the University of Maine. He serves on the advisory board to guide the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s technology curriculum. Two OHCHS graduates work at the Paris business, he added.
“Our goal is through those programs is to obviously recruit people for us, but also get people to understand they can do this kind of work in a rural location,” Larsen said.