BY CHRIS ROSE, WCSH
SACO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – More and more San Francisco is becoming home to the country’s hottest hi-tech companies, instead of what’s traditionally known as Silicon Valley.
But three San Francisco based companies have recently decided to set up shop here. Maine is typically ranked at or near the bottom of best places to do business. So why would up and coming companies come here?
Inside the Saco Industrial Park, one of Inc Magazine’s fastest growing Companies in America, has set up shop, leaving its San Francisco Bay Area roots behind.
Cirrus System manufactures state of the art LED outdoor video screens for advertising and horticultural lighting products.
“Our screens are going to be lighter, more compact, no moving parts. It’s a lot more of a robust package that’s going to last longer and perform better”, Said Cirrus CEO David Rycyna.
What sets this company apart from others is the way it integrates computer software with its products. By allowing businesses to see how many vehicles pull into their lots, they can gauge how successful the signs are in drawing customers.
On the horticultural side, indoor gardeners can control the intensity of the lights from the next room or the next town away using an app.
Rycyna says hard work, paying attention to customer needs and constantly reinventing themselves is what helped earn the rank of 11th fastest growing manufacturing company in the United States.
“The boring stuff that everyone describes when things are going well. That’s it, it’s focusing on those fundamentals”, he said.
Rycyna says he chose Maine to grow his company because here he doesn’t have to compete with Google and Facebook for the best available talent.
“Yah, we’re able to stand out and find great people”, he said.
He also found the space he needs to expand is much more affordable in Maine.
“Where we were located was five times the price per square foot of where we are at right now. So we literally quintupled the space that we’re operating in and our rent didn’t go up”, he said.
“Most places you look in Maine we do stand out from a cost of real estate. We can stand out and win that game”, said George Gervais, Maine’s Commissioner of Economic and Community Development.
While that and a strong work ethic can be appealing to businesses, Gervais says high energy costs and taxes continue to keep some businesses away.
“Those decisions are going to be made on the bottom line and we have some work to do to compete there still”, he said.
The hope is if Cirrus Systems is successful, others business will see you can make it here.
“The more we see people actually saying this is where I want to be, this is where I know we can be successful, it can absolutely send that message and create some momentum”, said Peter Del Greco CEO and President of Maine and Company.
His non-profit works with leaders of some of Maine’s most influential and successful companies to attract new business to the state. The better the business environment is here, the better it is for their companies.
“A rising economy, a healthy economy is good for everyone”, he said.
Another big selling point of Maine is its quality of life. The state is looking to the 30 million visitors that come each year to try to attract a bigger and better workforce.
“Those people as tourists have an affinity for Maine and they could be part of our future workforce if we play that game right”, said Gervais.
A low crime rate and beautiful summers are some of the things that attracted Rycyna and his company. Coming from California, he’s not so sure about the Winters just yet.
“I’ll have to report back on that in a few months. I’m originally from Buffalo though so I think I’ll survive”, he said.
Cirrus systems is not a labor-intensive operation. Right now they employ only about 25 people, but that’s expected to double over the next year or so.
Peter DelGreco of Maine and Company says they’ve been working with other out of state companies that could create 2000 to 3000 jobs here.