BREWER, Maine — Orrington native Nicole Gogan grew up watching and helping her father run Norlen’s Water Treatment and says it helped prepare her for a life in business.
“It was great experience,” she said on Thursday sitting in the Brewer economic development office. “A lot of good life lessons were taught there.”
Gogan, 33, was recently hired as the city’s economic development specialist, replacing Tanya Pereira, who took a similar job with Bangor. Gogan has worked in business or finance for most of her life and will graduate from the University of Maine in two weeks with a master’s degree in business administration.
With years of working for her dad — answering phones, running the counter, doing service calls with him and interacting with customers — Gogan said she has learned how to connect with people.
“I think it’s second nature to me,” she said.
“That’s one of the things that really stuck out with her,” said her new boss, Brewer’s Economic Development Director D’arcy Main-Boyington. “We want to give the best service that we can.”
A total of 43 people applied for the job, and most were qualified, making the decision a tough one, she added.
“Nicole’s attitude, intelligence and enthusiasm really rose to the top,” Main-Boyington said. “I think the businesses are going to like her.”
As part of her UMaine graduate work, Gogan worked in Brewer last year under the university’s Knowledge Transfer Alliance program and assisted one of the city’s newest businesses, SnapSpace Inc., with market research and creating a strategic plan.
“That work was instrumental for them getting the financing they needed,” Main-Boyington said.
Knowledge Transfer Alliance provides business and economics graduate students with hands-on experience and offers Maine businesses direct assistance with a variety of issues, Main-Boyington said. UMaine professors oversee the work.
“Any business that has a problem can call them for strategic plans, marketing and business plans,” she said. “We’ve used the KTA for a few projects in Brewer.”
Gogan, who has an undergraduate degree from Springfield College in Massachusetts, worked in the banking and finance industry before deciding to go back to school to earn her master’s degree.
Since she grew up in Orrington, “I know Brewer,” she said. “I’m really excited to be here. I can’t wait to graduate. I know this is where I am meant to be.”
Main-Boyington said Gogan will get a crash course in Brewer business over the next couple of months and eventually will be handed projects that interest her.
“I’m really interested in the business park,” Gogan said. “I think there is a wealth of opportunity there. It’s great for Brewer.”
Her enthusiasm was apparent as she described how Brewer could possibly attract up and coming industries — including biotechnology and others — to the region “that could put us on the map.”
Business is in her blood and she said she is ready to start helping Brewer businesses grow.
“I grew up in a small business family so having an opportunity to work with small businesses in the area is like coming home,” Gogan said. “It really ties everything together.”