WATERVILLE — A technology company from Burlington, Massachusetts, intends to open a center here, eventually employing up to 200 people in high-skill, high-pay jobs.

The arrival of Collaborative Consulting was hailed in a press conference that drew 300 people from the state’s business, education and government sectors, reflecting the collaboration that took two years to bring the company to Waterville.

“It’s not a small feat,” said Gov. Paul LePage of the effort. “Investment capital will go where it’s welcomed and stays where it’s appreciated and that is easier said than done.”

Collaborative Waterville will initially locate in the Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street and is scheduled to open in January with 20 employees. It aims to have 50 employees in another year and up to 200 over the next three to four years.

The company offers digital and data services to a wide array of clientele, including life science industries, financial companies, government, health and educational institutions.

William Robichaud, Collaborative Consulting’s founder, president and chief executive officer, received a standing ovation when he addressed the crowd gathered in Page Commons in Cotter Union on the campus of Colby College. Robichaud said his company conducted a nationwide search and market analysis to find a site for his company. Initially, he wanted to locate the center in Bangor, but found discussions with Colby College President David Greene very persuasive.

“He’s a major reason – an enormous reason – why Collaborative Consulting is here,” Robichaud said of Greene. “The man wouldn’t take ‘no.'”

The college has pledged student internships with the company, as well as faculty and staff training, and other professional development. Thomas College in Waterville and Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield will also work to create opportunities for technology and business skills education for students, officials said. Robichaud specifically mentioned the area’s innovative educational infrastructure as a reason to pick Waterville.

“One of Collaborative’s missions is to create long-term career advancing job opportunities in the communities we’re in,” he said.

Robichaud also worked with Peter DelGreco, president and CEO of Maine & Co., of Portland, and LePage’s senior economic adviser, John Butera, on the proposal. Butera was executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council in Waterville when LePage was mayor. Robichaud met with local civic leaders and business leaders as well.

“It’s a passionate group of businessmen in this community who believe in this community and it played an enormous part in this,” Robichaud said.

The company wasted no time posting job opportunities in Waterville on its website. It advertised nine jobs on Wednesday afternoon, ranging from a software engineer and Java developer to business analyst and “scrummaster,” a term for a product development team leader.

Robichaud said his company is in the process of hiring senior staff, experienced developers and managers and next, will set up a training class in mid-to-late February. He hopes to have another class next summer.

The goal is to have 200 people working in a space in three or four years, he said.

“But the reality is, it could take five,” Robichaud said. “We have a goal of three or four, but it depends on the market, on clients and the ability to get senior people.”

How it came together

Greene said that when people were talking about where Collaborative Consulting might locate in Waterville, his first thought was to approach Paul Boghossian, owner of Hathaway Creative Center, which could provide the perfect startup location. Tenants of the complex now employ 400, and another 115 people live in the upper floors of the development in high-end apartments.

Boghossian, a Colby alumnus who attended Wednesday’s announcement, said the development is exciting for the city and central Maine.

“We’ve been prepping for this for a few years, to welcome a big company to come to Waterville and bring nice-paying jobs to the city and downtown,” Boghossian said before speeches started. “How cool is that?”

Butera said discussions about bringing Collaborative Consulting to Maine started about three years ago. Then he and DelGreco, also a Colby alum, went to Burlington two years ago and started a relationship with Robichaud, according to Butera.

“Maine and Co. really led the charge and identified this company as a growing industry, a growing company and, as they do so many times, started the introduction of this in Maine,” Butera said.

“My job was to get them to Maine but also put all the best options on the table,” he said. “I saw the vision and the plan and passion that President Greene showed – and the track record.”

Butera was referring to the recent purchase by Colby of buildings downtown and the college’s plan to create student and staff housing, a boutique hotel and businesses downtown.

But drawing Collaborative to Waterville took time.

“These things just don’t click; there’s a lot of people, involving a lot of discussion,” Butera said. “Companies don’t make these decisions overnight. There were many other choices. What they’re trying to do is minimize risk and maximize the opportunity for success. That’s the name of the game and if your community or state doesn’t afford that, you’re out. It’s about being competitive.”

In addition to its Burlington site, Collaborative has two locations in the mid-Atlantic region and a center in Warsaw, Wisconsin. All together, the company employs more than 450 people.

Robichaud, native of Reading, Massachusetts, has vacationed for 51 years in Waterford, 20 minutes north of Sebago. Eighteen of his family members come to the same campground in Maine every weekend in the summer and in the winter, Robichaud skis at Sunday River, he said.

Robichaud got started in the technology business during the recession in 1981 after he borrowed $3,000 from his father to take computer classes.

“Dad had to take a loan out so I could go to school, and I paid him back,” he said.

He founded Collaborative Consulting in 1999. Robichaud said he is the only investor in the privately held company.