ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – With a shortage of young people in the state, there is one program at the University of Maine working to keep talented young workers here.
It’s called Innovate for Maine and it partners dozens of interns with more than 100 Maine companies.
"I wasn't even planning on going to college in Maine. I was set on leaving,” Emma Wilson said.
Wilson, who grew up in Maine, was always set on going elsewhere once she graduated from the University of Maine, until she found the program.
"I don't think that young people aren't necessarily willing to stay,” Angela McCue with the Foster Center for Student Innovation at UMaine said, “I think that young people don't necessarily know the opportunities that are available to them."
McCue said the program is still looking for more companies to provide more opportunities to a larger number of students.
The program first started about five years ago, and she said she hopes it continues to grow each year.
"We're looking for small companies large companies, anyone who is doing anything innovative and anyone who is looking to grow,” McCue said.
One of those innovative companies now is Susan MacKay's. It was at one of MacKay’s startups, Odigo, where Wislon got her start.
Now, she is President of the company that designed a odor absorbing no-mess compost kit.
It is compromised of a paper bag with a unique waterproof coding and an odor-absorbing insert. The special coatings were developed in MacKay’s lab.
“What she’s done with it is incredible, because a lot of it just takes time,” MacKay said.
Wilson focused her energy on the marketing and business side of things—doing everything from forecasting trends and even partnering with a large company in order to commercialize the product.
"I really like working with startups,’ Wilson said.
At 24 years old, she hopes others see what is possible right here in Maine.
"For me I really just don't think kids realize what Maine has to offer,” Wilson said.
Innovate for Maine is open to all Maine students, including those who may have gone away to school but came back home.
They even offer assistance to smaller companies through special subsidies.
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