BY PENELOPE OVERTON
One of the first few Mainers who tourists will lay eyes on this summer is Emma Doud, the smiling face of the Live & Work in Maine recruitment campaign.
The 33-year-old scientist is featured on a banner in the Kennebunk service plaza on Interstate 95, sporting a white lab coat and a bright-red surfboard.
This fun-loving Idexx Laboratories researcher is the poster child, literally, for the kind of talent that Maine companies hope to attract to the state.
“I moved here two years ago for my husband’s medical fellowship,” Doud said. “I worried that I would have to commute to Boston or we would have to do the long-distance thing if I wanted to work in my field.”
But Maine was nothing like Doud had imagined.
She landed a plum research job at Idexx before even moving to Portland, and within weeks she had fallen in love with the lifestyle, too, with its quirky mix of Maine outdoors and city culture.
Doud became the face of that Live & Work in Maine ad by chance. A marketing friend asked to borrow Doud’s lab coat for a shoot when vying for the account, and then, after winning it, decided to use Doud herself.
“They wanted a scientist who was enjoying all of the lifestyle opportunities that Maine has to offer, and surfing is certainly a good example,” Doud said.
That is how she ended up standing on Trundy Point in Cape Elizabeth in May, in a white lab coat with that red board matching her hair color, gazing out at Two Lights in the afternoon light.
The agency had wanted to feature real Mainers in all of the banners, which hang in the Maine Turnpike plazas in Kennebunk and Gardiner, but used actors for ads that target manufacturing and university students to finish the campaign materials in time for the summer tourist season.
The campaign is the product of collaboration between Maine’s top economic development officials and the Maine Turnpike Authority to recruit new employees to the workforce from among the 34 million out-of-state visitors expected in Maine this summer.
“Most see lines of tourists, we see opportunity,” said Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais.
The banner hanging in West Gardiner is written in French and English to target French Canadians coming into Maine. In the ad, a man sits astride a bicycle, wearing a hard hat and carrying engineering plans.
The ad reflects Jacques Santucci’s experience, a Frenchman who moved to Maine for what he thought would be a few years at most, but who stayed for the lifestyle, both for him and his family.
Santucci, who runs a business consulting firm out of Longfellow Square in Portland, loves to bike, but he prefers the gas-powered kind on the open road to the pedal-pushing version featured in the ad.
He and his wife, Patricia, decided to stay after the yacht tourism company that sent Santucci here as its chief financial officer closed. Even with an international resume, Santucci struggled to find new work, so he decided to set up shop on his own.
The couple, both 47, live in Falmouth with their two daughters, but they are city people at heart, living in the Portland area because it offers the charms of city living without the big-city headaches of Paris.
“We like it here because we can work the way that we want, work hard, but when we are done, we can have a good personal life for balance,” Santucci said. “The city is not too big, not like New York or Paris, but not too small, either. It’s just right.”
Doud couldn’t agree more.
She doesn’t surf much anymore, not since one of her friends introduced her to sailing. They are planning to race in their first regatta this month. But she’s hoping to hit the waves at Higgins Beach again soon.
She enjoys city life, too. She had assumed she would have to trade the culture she had enjoyed in Chicago for a good job and beautiful Maine scenery.
But it was in Portland, not Chicago, where Doud went to her first symphony, and joined her first cocktail club. She keeps a list of favorite restaurants, from Grace to Green Elephant, to share with visitors.
She likes to play tour guide for her friends and her family from away, so making the leap from unofficial Pine Tree State ambassador to the face of the state’s new recruitment campaign was not a big one for Doud.
“We didn’t wake up one day and say we’ve got to live in Portland, or even Maine, but we fell in love with what we found here,” she said. “I tell everyone that I meet: Maine, it’s going to surprise you.”