A Maine native is donating $100 million to Northeastern University to establish a graduate school and research center in Portland in hopes of transforming the city into a technology hub and sparking economic growth, officials said Monday.
The Roux Institute, which will open in the spring, bears the name of donor David Roux, who grew up in Lewiston, Maine, graduated from Harvard University, and built a fortune as a technology entrepreneur and Silicon Valley investor.
The goal is to give a jolt to the largest city in a rural state that lags behind the region in wages and has an aging population.
“In this country, ambition and ability are broadly distributed, but opportunity is not,” Roux said Monday in a statement.
Ten companies, including retailer L.L. Bean, specialty insurer Unum, pet diagnostics company Idexx and the Jackson Laboratory, have signed on as founding partners, which will enable the center to help people adapt to the evolving economy.
Roux described the project to The New York Times as “an opportunity machine disguised as an educational institution and research center.”
Roux’s efforts began a few years ago with a review of university options.
His team eventually settled on Northeastern, which is known for providing its students with work and internship opportunities as part of degree programs.
It will add Portland to a network that includes its main campus in Boston and satellite in several other cities in the U.S. and Canada.
“The impact of the Roux Institute will reverberate across the region for generations to come. It will serve as a national model for expanding growth and innovation, and reducing inequality,” Joseph E. Aoun, Northeastern’s president, said in a statement.