MBNA America Bank's innovative move into Maine was not a first for an out-of-state financial services organization.

Forum Financial Group, a New York-based mutual fund company, has its principal operations center in Portland. Its experience sounds remarkably similar to MBNA's.

John Y. Keffer, who founded Forum in 1985, moved the bulk of the operations to Maine two years later. Despite maintaining its official headquarters in New York, the firm has 130 of its 135 employees in Portland, administering and distributing funds for banking companies like Norwest Corp.

Mr. Keffer was swayed by the fact he had a vacation home in Maine. But he told American Banker two years ago, "We got a highly educated work force with a strong work ethic at a reasonable price."

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