Augusta, MAINE – Governor-elect Janet Mills announced today that she will nominate Heather Johnson, Director of the ConnectME Authority and former Executive Director of the Somerset Economic Development Corporation, to serve as the next Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).
“Heather brings decades worth of private and public sector experience to the Department of Economic and Community Development, all of which will be tremendously beneficial to marketing Maine, attracting and retaining people, growing businesses, and strengthening our economy,” said Governor-elect Janet Mills. “I look forward to working with Heather in the years to come to see that Maine, especially rural Maine, is able to grow, thrive, and compete in today’s global economy.”
“I am honored to be Governor-elect Mills’ selection to lead the Department of Economic and Community Development,” said Johnson. “I have dedicated my career to fostering economic development, both in private companies and in rural communities across Maine, and I am excited not only by the opportunity to work with economic development agencies, business and communities across the state, but by the great potential we have to find sustainable growth strategies for all parts of Maine.”
Johnson has more than 25 years of experience in both the private and public realms. As Director of the ConnectME Authority, a position she has held since January 2018, she is focused on expanding access to and increasing adoption of broadband connectivity in Maine. In the role, she is responsible for completing and executing a statewide action plan to expand broadband infrastructure; managing a grant program; mapping key assets; working with communities and businesses to help identify needs and opportunities; and supporting communities in their broadband planning needs and encouraging providers to engage in needed projects.
Prior to joining the ConnectME Authority, Johnson served as the Executive Director of the Somerset Economic Development Corporation (2015-2018) where she was charged with improving the rural economic landscape for the businesses and residents of Somerset County. In her position, Johnson worked to foster collaboration among businesses, municipalities and non-profit organizations and focused on enhancing workforce development, broadband infrastructure and tourism.
Johnson also built a diverse background in the private technology sector including sales, operations and general management roles at Nokia, Gateway, and Polaroid. With continually expanding roles, she created start-up operations inside large companies, developed new products for new markets led large sales teams and a global ecommerce platform.
From 1999 to 2004, she worked for Gateway, a technology hardware company, in expanding roles that concluded with her serving as Vice President of Sales where she oversaw a $1.2 billion in sales through the company’s stores servicing consumers and small business customers. From 2004 to 2006, Johnson worked at Polaroid, serving as Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Americas Channel Marketing for Latin America and Canada before becoming Vice President of International Sales, Operations and Worldwide eCommerce where she led the worldwide eCommerce business.
Johnson then went on to work at Nokia from 2006 to 2010 where she served as Vice President, Verizon and was responsible for channel sales and marketing in North America. In the position, she led a team that grew online revenue by 54 percent. She later joined Edgecomb Partners where she served from 2012 to 2014 as the Vice President of Marketing and Operations and was responsible for the development and execution of the strategic growth plan, marketing plan, overhaul of web and ecommerce site including infrastructure upgrade, streamlining business operations and creating and managing financial metrics.
If confirmed as Commissioner of DECD, Johnson will be charged with overseeing more than two dozen experts across several bureaus whose mission is to help communities and businesses prosper through a variety of programs that provide everything from targeted tax relief to community block grants to tourism marketing. DECD and its partners show companies how to benefit from millions of dollars in tax credits, reimbursements, R & D credits, capital loans, even direct investment and help Maine communities attract jobs and grow their infrastructure with unique financing programs.
Johnson, 48, grew up in Skowhegan and received her B.A. from the University of Maine. She currently lives in Norridgewock with her husband and son.
Johnson’s nomination will be considered by Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Commerce Committee and the Maine Senate.