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Updated: October 24, 2023

Entrepreneur group's 3rd ‘visionaries’ cohort will focus on food, bioscience

person looking at mushrooms File Photo / Tim Greenway North Spore Mushroom Co. in Portland was a past participant in Maine Center for Entrepreneurs’ Visionary Leadership Program. Seen here is North Spore’s co-founder Eliah Thanhauser.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs will enroll food industry and bioscience entrepreneurs in its third Visionary Leadership Program, scheduled for 2024.

The nine-session program, launched in October 2020, is designed to help emerging Maine business leaders build and strengthen their leadership skills.  

The goal, in partnership with FocusMaine, is to help leaders achieve professional and personal growth.

"The Visionary Leadership Program addresses critical skill gaps and equips founders with practical tools they can use right away to put their businesses on a sustainable path to growth,” said FocusMaine Program Director Leo Waterston. “This program helps unlock the talent that will drive Maine's innovation economy forward.”

Twenty-nine CEOs and senior managers across various industries have participated in this program since 2020 including: Wilbur’s of Maine, Healing Harbors, North Spore, Bangs Island Mussels, Glacial Multimedia, Spring Point Solutions, Denvantage and American Unagi.   

Mentors and goals

Through monthly virtual meetings, the program provides participants with a statewide peer network of business leaders facing similar challenges, as well as mentoring and perspectives from established business and thought leaders.   

Topics include building business culture, leading change, personal and business mission building, performance management and knowing customers. Past speakers have included business, government and academic leaders from across the state. 

Meetings will be facilitated by Skip Bates, a certified executive coach with ClearRock, a Boston executive coaching firm. Bates is also board treasurer for the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs.

"The Visionary Leadership Program is about getting perspective: stepping back, looking at your goals, your company, your mission, and ensuring that you are clear-sighted in your endeavors,” Bates said. “Top executives value having a confidential group of peers who can help them navigate.”

Recruitment for next year's VLP cohort is underway. VLP 2024 will run from January through April 2024.  

Selected food and bioscence company leaders will meet approximately every three weeks during that time. Potential applicants include Maine-based food, beverage, bioscience and life science business leaders who have a growth mindset and have five or more employees.

For more information, click here or email Laurie Johnson at

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