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May 18, 2018

Gorham Savings Bank announces LaunchPad finalists

File Photo / Tim Greenway
File Photo / Tim Greenway
Christopher Emmons, CEO of Gorham Savings Bank, which announced Thursday the five Maine businesses selected as finalists of the bank's annual LaunchPad small business competition.

About Gorham Savings Bank

Headquartered in Gorham since its founding in 1868, Gorham Savings Bank is a depositor-owned community bank delivering a full suite of financial services tailored to the needs of Southern Maine's businesses and consumers. As the only bank headquartered in Cumberland County, Gorham Savings serves and supports businesses that value local management, know-how and accountability. The bank has 12 branches and a growing network of ATMs, ITMs and mobile services and is a member of the FDIC.

Gorham Savings Bank announced on Thursday the five Maine businesses selected as the finalists of its annual LaunchPad small business competition.

From an applicant pool of over 180 businesses, American Roots, Bangs Island Mussels, Blue Ox Malthouse, North Spore, and Wallace James Clothing Co. rose to the top and will move onto the next round — a live pitch competition to be held one June 5 at the University of Southern Maine's Hannaford Hall in Portland.

The five finalists will make their pitches in front of a live audience and an independent panel of judges will decide which one will be awarded the $50,000 grant from Gorham Savings Bank. LaunchPad judges will be Winxnet CEO and co-founder Chris Claudio; Steve Campbell, founder and CEO of pro-voke; and Catherine Cloudman, an owner and chief financial officer of Village Fertility Pharmacy (formerly Apothecary By Design).

Here are the finalists

Now in its sixth year, Gorham Savings Bank's LaunchPad helps Maine innovators and entrepreneurs get to the next stage. Entries for this year's competition were submitted via an online form during the entry period of March 15-April 15.

While each of this year's finalists operates in a different niche, common threads among what they offer include food, farming and manufacturing.

The five finalists:

  • American Roots, located in Westbrook, is a family-run manufacturer that makes 100% American-made, union-made customized apparel using 100% USA-sourced raw materials. Founded in 2015, American Root's innovative workforce training program has given new Americans in need the opportunity to learn how to sew, earn good wages and ultimately enhance their lives.
  • Bangs Island Mussels, from Portland, is a family-owned and operated sustainable aquaculture company that farm-raises mussels, scallops and kelp locally in the cool, clean waters of Casco Bay. Bangs Island mussels can be found in fine restaurants in Maine and around the country.
  • Blue Ox Malthouse of Lisbon Falls, a returning finalist from 2016, turns raw grain from local farms into malt used by craft breweries to differentiate their products and its commitment to the farmer-brewer link promotes economic sustainability too.
  • North Spore, operating out of Westbrook, a returning finalist from 2017, produces specialty mushrooms, mushroom products and mushroom spawn, and is changing the way the world interacts with mushrooms through innovation and education. The company produces gourmet mushrooms and spawn for both retail and commercial use and is striving to be a community hub where people learn to love mushrooms and admire this often overlooked biological kingdom.
  • Wallace James Clothing Co. of Portland, provides the ability to design, develop and produce garments all under one roof with a dedication to education at each phase. Wallace James' studio accommodates a full sourcing library to support independent and emerging designers.

"Access to capital is still the main hurdle most small businesses face," said Steve deCastro, president of Gorham Savings Bank. "Seeing the wide range of applicants from small businesses statewide is truly inspiring. The excitement around the competition demonstrates the strength of entrepreneurship in Maine."

Emerging Idea Award finalists

New to LaunchPad last year, the Emerging Idea Award, won by Thomaston-based American Unagi, is a $10,000 grant that comes with an additional $10,000 worth of in-kind marketing, business development and public relations services.

This year's finalists, selected from LaunchPad applicants are:

  • Farm Drop in Cape Elizabeth
  • Home Care Business Services in Falmouth
  • NavigatER in Cape Elizabeth
  • Pocket Parks in Winthrop
  • Sofia Fima in Lewiston.

Each finalist will have the opportunity to submit a 60-second pitch video, which will be played at the event. The Emerging Idea Award winner will be announced just before the LaunchPad winner at the live event at Hannaford Hall.

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