Perry Newman doesn’t like to focus on where Maine’s economy has been, but where it is headed. While some in Maine’s business sector complain about roadblocks preventing Maine from competing on a large scale — energy prices, taxes, lack of broadband infrastructure — Newman, president and founder of consulting firm Atlantica Group in Portland, is quietly working to boost international opportunities for Maine companies and to secure the state’s future as a player in the global market.

Since he founded Atlantica Group in partnership with Portland law firm Curtis Thaxter in 2000, Newman has helped more than 200 clients in Maine and the United States do business with Canada, France, Israel and other countries, and vice versa. From his office overlooking Monument Square, Newman, 50, acts as market researcher and business and cultural liaison to his clients — a mix of public and private sector businesses and nonprofits — building what he calls “connectivity” between Maine businesses and their foreign counterparts. Newman consults on international business growth, conducts market research and develops strategies to market clients’ goods internationally.

Newman, a soft and thoughtful speaker with black-rimmed glasses and a weakness for oversized Canada Mints, has, for example, helped an Israeli company specializing in military simulation break into the U.S. defense market by researching what type of simulation training the U.S. Department of Defense was funding and suggesting ways, such as partnering with an American company, to access that funding. He researched the North American oyster market to help the French oyster industry craft a plan to export to Canada. And he used his connections with Parisian consulting firm PAN Consulting France to help Portland’s Swardlick Marketing Group get an audience with French government and industry officials. The meetings resulted in a multi-year contract with the French dairy promotion board, the Centre National Interprofessionnel de Économie Laitière. In fact, though Newman founded the company to help Maine companies expand into foreign markets, the bulk of his clients — 80% — are foreign companies, organizations and governments. The opportunity for Maine companies to access Newman’s services remains, therefore, wide open.

Newman, who in 2006 aligned Atlantica with international Portland law firm Pierce Atwood, believes Maine’s global economy must move beyond the simple Company-A-exports-to-Company-B formula. Maine can be an international competitor by integrating foreign products and technologies into its own industries — like installing a German-made machine at a manufacturing plant, for example, that allows the company to produce goods faster or cheaper than its competitors, or licensing technology owned in Maine to a user abroad who can improve the product. Asking for help runs counter to the “Yankee self-sufficiency,” as Newman puts it, but he says enlisting the support of a consultant like him can increase a Maine company’s visibility in a global market. “You need a partner to align yourself with who brings something to the mix,” he says. “Sitting in Maine, it’s difficult to walk into Paris and say, ‘Hi, I have the best widget on the market,’ and expect people to take notice.”

Newman’s work to strengthen global relations, especially with Canada, has earned him international recognition. He’s serving his second term as Canada’s first honorary consul to Maine, acting as a liaison between Maine and Canadian government officials and business people. And at the beginning of this year, Newman, who is fluent in French, became the first American to be elected to the board of the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, a Halifax, N.S.-based think tank devoted to strengthening the regional economy of northern New England and Atlantic Canada.

Newman plans to keep growing Maine’s international presence by acting like hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who famously attributed his success to “skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Mindy Favreau