BANGOR, Maine — There has been a lot of talk in Maine economic development circles lately about asset-based development.
The idea is simple: When attracting new businesses or businesses looking to expand, communities focus on what they have rather than what they lack.
Oxford Networks, a telecommunications company that serves businesses, officially opened an office in downtown Bangor on Thursday. It hopes to provide an added asset to potential new businesses but also to many existing businesses in the Bangor-Brewer market.
“We’re proud of the culture we’ve built at Oxford and of the team we’ve assembled here in Bangor,” company president Craig Gunderson said Thursday at an event showcasing the new Oxford offices on Summer Street near the Bangor police station.
About one year ago, Oxford invested $4 million to create an FTTP, or Fiber to the Premise, telecommunications network throughout Bangor and Brewer. The 52 miles of new optical cables connect to Oxford’s 1,000 miles of fiber optics that extend to Boston. Fiber-optic technology uses glass fiber to carry digital information, mostly for telephone and Internet services.
“We have a really good mix of about 80 business partners in Bangor and Brewer so far,” sales manager Tracy Peters said. “The great thing about what we provide is that we control the network from end to end.”
Oxford, a 108-year-old Maine company with headquarters in Lewiston, extended its fiber-optic network to Bangor about a year ago but has been operating out of temporary offices until recently. Gunderson said the new offices allow for centralization of services, which makes things easier on both employees and customers.
Bangor Mayor Gerry Palmer and his Brewer counterpart, Arthur Verow, praised the investment by Oxford in their shared market.
“We couldn’t be happier to have them,” Palmer said. “Connectivity is important.”
Added Verow: “I know we’re across the river, but Bangor and Brewer are really one economic community. This is a great economic development asset.”
One business owner who has taken advantage of Oxford Networks is Dave Kennedy of Beef O’Brady’s, a new restaurant in Brewer.
“When I was looking to open my business, I was referred to them by city staff. Within a few hours they were on site. I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Kennedy said Thursday.
John Diamond, chairman of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce board of trustees, said part of economic development is quality of life and part of quality of life is a community’s existing corporate citizenry.
“It’s clear that in the short time that Oxford has been here that they are good corporate citizens,” he said.