By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,763)
Maine is well positioned for economic leadership, although it could come in ways that may surprise many. What may be seen as disadvantages by some can be turned upside down and inside out and used to our advantage David Kappos, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and currently a practicing attorney told an audience this afternoon at USM’s Glickman Library, Portland.
Kappos said that institutions of higher learning such as USM need to turn to community partnerships to continue to be relevant. Maine has one clear advantage that other communities do not have. Because of its older population, the “grayest” in the nation, Maine should take advantage of the expertise and knowledge some of them can provide to help mentor those in need of it; thereby turning a liability into an asset. A lack of mentors in other countries is often cited as a reason for innovative failures Kappos said.
Maine often looks to its Nordic neighbors for guidance in how to proceed because of similar climates. Sweden, Norway and Finland have invested heavily in big data collection. These “server farms” require extensive cooling systems because of the high levels of heat they produce. That is an expense that can be eliminated in Maine because of its cold climate so much of the year. “This is not an epiphany. I applaud Maine leaders for putting Maine on the map here,” said Kappos who has a second home in Thomaston.
Following the forty-five minute talk, Joe McDonnell, Dean of the College of Management & Human Service in the Muskie School of Public Policy, expressed his support for the proposed PACE Center. “We have talent in our faculty and students that learn from the community and contribute to create a more vibrant environment in Portland. We need to have places for innovative prototypes. We need gray-haired people with experience who want to share their knowledge with others,” said Dean McDonnell. “But money is always a problem.” The PACE Center is the brainchild of Creative Portland, represented by Tom Blackburn at the talk. “CP” would serve as an incubator for innovative people affiliated with USM. Its proposed location is in the soon to be vacated city public services buildings on Hanover Street.