Jim Dinkle

Name: James Dinkle

Age: 58

Title: Executive director

Company: KRDA/FirstPark

About: A regional commerce and technology park, Oakland

Website: firstpark.com

What’s your biggest challenge now?

Since I am new to the position — I started Nov. 6 as executive director — I am going through my first year and learning how to most effectively promote and market the park in the New England region.

FirstPark was developed in the 1990s as a commerce and technology park. There’s 220 acres across 17 available lots for sale or lease remaining in the park. It’s located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Interstate 95 and Kennedy Drive. T-Mobile has a call center here with 800 employees. MaineGeneral Healthcare has a variety of specialists and doctors in the park. L.L. Bean has two lots here but they have not developed them and I don’t know of any plans to develop them. PFBF CPAs has an office right at the entrance.

Right now, we are undertaking a strategic marketing plan with Nancy Marshall Communications in Augusta that will tell us how to most effectively market the park. That’s going to be a learning experience. We’ve also refreshed the website and made it more focused on site selectors and corporate real estate executives.

Since I moved here from Arizona, I am learning very well the infrastructure of the park and its capacities and the types of business that are good fits for the park based on the covenants and the uses the park was intended for.

The park has fiber optics, with service maintained by Verizon. It’s a solid infrastructure for enhanced communications and that’s a sell-able feature.

The park is owned by the Kennebec Regional Development Authority, a combination of 24 communities that signed an intergovernmental agreement. I have taken time to visit each one of the town or city councils or selectmen to introduce myself and give a status report.

What’s the best advice anyone has given you?

My mantra is the words of Dr. Jonas Salk, who invented the polio vaccine: “The greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” I have 20 to 25 years of experience in economic development and I have some good successes under my belt, and now I am taking the opportunity to do more.

How do you foster creativity in yourself?

Now that I live in Maine, I have better work-life balance, which I never had before I lived here. Maine promotes itself as the way life should be. I have lived in Chicago, Seattle and Phoenix, and I have felt that work life balance better here than in any place I have lived. I am eager to come to work and please my employer, and it makes me happy when I go home.

One of the nice amenities of FirstPark is that we have sidewalks and I can walk at lunchtime. It’s a natural, pristine setting and I can clear my head and do something healthy.

What’s your biggest concern right now?

I can’t really say I have one. I am optimistic about the future, the state of the economy and the number of leads we are working on right now and the potential projects to go into the park.

Our organization is adequately funded, and we have a supportive general assembly. We have active officers who are executive board members.

If I had one remote concern, it would be the availability of housing if we were to land a large-scale employer, to meet their needs.

We have a skilled workforce, and we have training available to tailor to employees. Housing might be an issue.

We have great talent coming out of Colby College, Thomas College, Kennebec Valley Community Collete, and even Bowdoin and Bates. And there still may be skilled workers available who were displaced in the last few years. Or there are people who are underemployed who would take a better job.

What’s the future for the economy of central Maine?

New England has been reinventing itself in the last 20 years, with high tech and life sciences and biosciences companies. My impression of New England is one of great entrepreneurship and innovation.

That will continue to be the trend and there will be growth in small- and medium-sized businesses.

If Amazon chooses Boston for its second headquarters, it could be a windfall for the state of Maine. If Amazon moves there, labor and wages would become more competitive there, forcing small businesses to look further out in Maine, particularly to the central Maine region where labor would be more affordable.

I hope for many reasons that Boston gets that headquarters. It would be great for all of New England.

In central Maine, we have a lot of good building blocks. We have a foreign trade zone that covers most of the region. We have intermodal rail service in Waterville and Auburn, with the ability to bring things in. It’s a dynamic asset to be able to take advantage of. We have good airports in Augusta and Waterville and Auburn. We have a good transportation infrastructure and it’s a very sell-able feature. We’re investing in airports as far as I can tell, and that’s important for corporate aircraft.

How do you get people here? Proximity to recreation. We have skiing to the north and the coast not far away. We’re close to the urban areas in Boston and Portland.

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