ELLSWORTH — A recent editorial in the Portland Press Herald posited that Maine’s economic future could be rooted in attracting small businesses and freelancers to the state.
In an increasingly digital world, many jobs can be worked remotely, while those workers could enjoy the relatively affordable cost of living in Maine.
That requires widespread access to broadband internet, however, and Ellsworth is already home to two co-working spaces for just those kinds of jobs.
“I can tell you right now, I moved from New Hampshire and it was an absolute requirement to have broadband,” said Dave Charron. “When I ended up buying this house in Ellsworth, if I couldn’t have broadband, it was off the list.”
Charron owns Compusult, a computer consulting business. The business is located in the same building as Anchorspace, a co-working space owned by Nicole Ouellette. Anchorspace has a second location in Bar Harbor. The co-working space allows small businesses and freelancers a place to work, and access to reliable broadband internet.
“With so many things being cloud-based, it really doesn’t matter how far away you are from a client since you can work remotely,” Charron said.
In 2017, Ellsworth opened up three miles of underground digital fiber optic cable running through the city’s downtown area, part of its effort to provide a largely rural population with high-speed internet access.
Anchorspace and Compusult are located within the coverage area.
“It can be pretty expensive in Maine to get broadband internet up here,” Ouellette said. “So you really have to like or need the internet to pay for it in your house.”
Recently, ConnectME, an agency tasked with expanding broadband coverage in Maine, published data showing that 35 percent of households in Hancock County lacked access to adequate internet service.
The data showed that at least 8,290 homes in Hancock County recorded speeds less than Maine’s state benchmark of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3Mbps for uploads.
That included 802 households in Brooksville.