An Economic Powerhouse
Brewer may have the Russian people to thank for its energetic and accomplished Director of Economic Development. If they hadn’t thrown off the yoke of Communist rule during D’arcy Main-Boyington’s senior year of college, she might now be hammering out the next Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty rather than boosting Brewer’s business climate.
The Orono High School grad studied international relations at the University of Maine, and attended classes at McGill University in Montreal under the Canada Year Study Abroad program. “All of my attention was on superpower relations,” Main-Boyington recalls. “When I was at McGill in 1988 and 1989 I was studying treaties and weaponry, and really hoped to get into negotiations. That was my goal. I wanted to do superpower negotiations someday. And then in 1990, my senior year, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the world changed.”
So did her plans. After earning a graduate degree in International Political and Economic Development from Fordham University in New York, Main-Boyington began to look for work in Third World countries. But husband Daryl, also a Maine native, wanted to return home. “It was actually a wonderful decision,” she says.
After a stint as a financial analyst, she took a position in the Angus King administration with the Department of Economic and Community Development. She traveled all over the state and met as many manufacturers as she could, observing and listening. She has had her present job since 2004.
On her watch, Brewer has landed two large businesses: Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Lafayette Family Cancer Center, and Cianbro’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility. But attracting new businesses to Brewer is only the most visible part of her job.
“I think that’s the part that most people are familiar with, that they see in the news,” she says. “The more important part, and what we do most of the time, is business retention—trying to help the businesses that we have here, dealing with issues of business climate, trying to make sure that this is a place where a business can be successful. We’ll do whatever we can to help a business get financing, if that’s what they need, or business incentives from the state or federal government. We’ll work very hard to get all of that. But we absolutely want to make sure they stay healthy in the long term.”
Though the big businesses get the publicity, Main-Boyington works hard to ensure that the city’s many small businesses get the same level of attention. For example, if a business is remodeling, the city can assist the owner in applying for energy efficiency grants. Not every project has to be big.
“The smaller businesses often were overlooked in the past,” she says. “One thing we’ve tried to do is create some small business programs. We want to make sure that those small businesses are getting equal face time with us, equal chance to tell us what’s going well, what’s not going well, what we might do differently to be able to help them. It’s been a big success, but a quiet thing.”
A self-described “economics nerd,” Main-Boyington enjoys the diversity of businesses (Brewer has approximately 430) and addressing the challenges they face. “Every day is different,” she says. “I can go from working with someone who wants to start a hair salon in their home, to a meeting an hour later with Cianbro on a massive project. I like to have a bunch of different projects and see a bunch of different people every day.”
Her off-hours schedule is nearly as busy as her work schedule. She sits on several boards, including the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, advisory committees for Husson University, and the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bangor campus. Weekends in the spring, summer, and fall are spent horseback riding with her husband and 11-year-old son or with a group of friends. The family lives in Hampden, with two dogs, a cat, and three horses. “I’ve had horses on and off most of my life,” she says. “My horses are my passion.”
A copyright story from the Bangor Metro, Thursday, March 1, 2012 by Henry Garfield.