Marita Fairfield said she has “always been all about making sure people can use technology.” Now she is doing it as chief operating officer of Wiscasset-based National Digital Equity Center (NDEC).
Fairfield, who grew up in Wiscasset, had a market research firm in Utah. She sold it to her biggest client, another marketing firm, and took a job with them on the condition she could live and work in Maine. That was in 1998. She figures she was probably one of Lincoln County’s first telecommuters.
“I used the internet to be able to come home ... When you’re born in Maine, they put a homing device in your brain.”
The Fairfields go back generations in Wiscasset. Marita Fairfield’s father Schuyler Fairfield is retired from 57 years making signs, including the famous “Welcome to Wiscasset” one. His shop was on the waterfront, in an 1800s building his father George Fairfield bought from Hood Ice Cream in the mid-1900s, according to Wiscasset Newspaper files.
Marita Fairfield recalled her father and her late mother Marguerite both being “early adapters of technology.”
Working at Coastal Enterprises in Wiscasset as the Women’s Business Center’s program director, Marita Fairfield specialized in internet marketing and business software; she developed a program of online classes for businesspeople around the state.
From 2014 to 2018, she owned PowerUp Business Solutions, helping businesses with technology and with online training. With her NDEC work, Fairfield, now of Newcastle, continues to follow her passion of helping others use technology. “What we’re doing ... is really about breaking down that digital divide.” Many people used to only go online for email, she said; now they can use telehealth or spend time with family members on Zoom.
Fairfield’s being from Wiscasset was part of why NDEC became based there, Executive Director Susan Corbett said.
“Marita makes all the wheels go. I can have all these great ideas, but she’s the one who’s got to execute them. And she does a fabulous job in doing that.”
Fairfield is grateful to Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission for donating the space. Wiscasset is a perfect location for NDEC and other organizations, she said.