WATERVILLE — Collaborative Consulting, the Massachusetts-based technology business that opened a site in Waterville this year, has been purchased by CGI Group Inc., a multibillion dollar global leader in information technology and business processing services based in Montreal, Quebec.
Collaborative Consulting is located temporarily in the Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street and plans to move into the upper two floors of the former Hains building at 173 Main St. once renovations at that building are completed next summer. Company officials said it would need more space as the business grows.
Officials of Collaborative, an information technology services and consulting company from Burlington, Mass., said they hoped to hire about 200 people to work in downtown Waterville in five years. As of Aug. 28, 30 people were working at the business in the Hathaway center.
The company and Thomas College forged a training partnership that officials said would benefit both entities and meet the needs of the area’s businesses.
John Williams, Collaborative’s senior vice president who has been working with the Waterville satellite office, did not immediately return a phone call Friday, but Kimberly N. Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council, said she is pleased about CGI’s investment in the city.
“Mid-Maine Chamber and Central Maine Growth Council are encouraged by the fact that CGI is investing in our region with its recent purchase of Collaborative Waterville,” Lindlof said Friday. “As with Collaborative, we look forward to working closely with CGI as it grows its footprint in Waterville. As a global leader in IT services, CGI will be an asset to our region. We are thrilled to be connecting with them to nurture this portion of its business.”
City Manager Michael Roy said he is confident CGI will continue to do the work Collaborative had planned for Waterville, and the purchase does not worry him.
“At this point I’m not troubled by this, not one single bit,” Roy said Friday. “I think Collaborative was impressed with Waterville as a site, and I have every reason to believe CGI will feel the same way, and the reason for that is a very strong support from Colby College and the city. So I think that they will recognize how much we have worked with them to make this site a vital part of their business, and I’m confident that CGI will look at it the same way.”
Considered a leading provider of information technology and business processing services, CGI said in a media announcement dated Nov. 4 that it acquired Collaborative through its subsidiary, CGI Technologies and Solutions. Collaborative has nearly 400 employees and generates $76 million annually, the release says.
“This merger complements CGI’s proximity model, further augmenting its relationships and supplementing CGI’s footprint in the Boston metro area as well as the surrounding New England region,” it says. “Collaborative will enhance and accelerate CGI’s position as a leading provider of digital transformation services to meet growing demand, particularly benefiting the commercial sector.”
David L. Henderson, CGI’s president of U.S. Operations, said in the release that the purchase is expected to increase growth for CGI.
“In line with our strategy and fiscal 2017 business plan, the combination with Collaborative will have a significant positive impact on our U.S. Northeast operations while acting as a catalyst for future organic growth for the overall U.S. business, contributing to both our high-end consulting offerings while adding to our onshore delivery options,” Henderson said.
George D. Schindler, president and chief executive officer of CGI, said combining with Collaborative is consistent with CGI’s “well-articulated build and buy strategy to invest in both transformational and niche acquisitions that will spur future growth and expand coverage in targeted metro markets. Collaborative fits this bill as it brings both unique local relationships and deep industry experience to the CGI global platform.”
When Collaborative announced in December 2015 at Colby College that it would open in Waterville, Gov. Paul LePage spoke, saying the effort was a direct result of government, educational institutions and business working together.
“Investment capital will go where it’s welcomed and stays where it’s appreciated, and that is easier said than done,” LePage, former mayor of Waterville, said at the time.
Collaborative’s founder, president and chief executive officer, William Robichaud, said at the time that Waterville is an ideal fit because of its dynamic community, exceptional workforce and impressive educational infrastructure focused on innovation.
Robichaud had worked on the proposal to have a Maine location with Peter DelGreco, president and chief executive officer of Maine & Co., of Portland, and John Butera, LePage’s senior economic adviser and former executive director of Central Maine Growth Council.
Colby President David A. Greene courted Collaborative officials, urging them to locate in the city. The Hains building downtown is one of five buildings Colby purchased with plans to either tear down or partner with investors to redevelop as part of downtown revitalization.
Kate Carlisle, Colby’s director of communications, said Friday that in the past several months, Colby officials have been encouraged by the outstanding team of employees Collaborative has hired in central Maine.
“We are hopeful that CGI will be able to build on that success by continuing to draw on the talented workforce in Waterville and the surrounding areas,” she said.
“Meanwhile, our strategy for infusing downtown with new energy is multifaceted, and we are continuing with our planning for a hotel, a student apartment complex and mixed use development. We are seeing increased interest in Waterville from outside investors, and multiple properties downtown have changed hands this year. We will continue to work to attract new employers to the area to ensure the sustainability of our efforts.”
She said heavy construction work is going on in the former Hains building, and she expects the building will be occupied next summer.
Amy Calder — 861-9247