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Updated: March 18, 2020

Gorham Savings puts LaunchPad contest on hold until 2021

Gorham Savings Bank has called off its 2020 Launchpad competition in the wake of the growing coronavirus crisis.

The decision, announced Tuesday, comes about two weeks before the April 1 application deadline.  A live event had been planned for June 2 in Portland.

Citing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gorham Savings said it is exercising an abundance of caution to help ensure the health and safety of its customers, employees and communities. 

"As such, we regret to inform you that we have made the tough decision to cancel LaunchPad for 2020," it said in an emailed announcement. "The online application is now closed and the live pitch event, including our LaunchPad Junior competition, is canceled but will return in 2021."

Mark Girr, the bank's director of marketing and communications, told Mainebiz Wednesday morning that while the bank had considered running the event virtually, it made more sense to call off this year's contest with everything that's going on.

"We're putting all of our efforts into doing everything we can for the customers, and trying to provide whatever services they need," he said. "This is just part of that bigger decision to ensure their safety and health."

He also noted that it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make LaunchPad happen, and expressed his appreciation for all the volunteer judges.

"It's not a decision we took easily," he said.

In its news release, Gorham Savings also thanked the the entrepreneurs and small business owners who had already invested their time into applying saying that saved drafts submitted applications will be available to edit during next year's competition.

"Gorham Savings Bank believes in the resiliency of our business community, and we are doing all we can to provide the support and resources needed to address this health emergency," it said.

The contest would have awarded $50,000 to the Grand Prize winner, as well as $10,000 in prize money and an equal amount in business and marketing-related services to the Emerging Business Award winner.

2019 LaunchPad winners Alicia Menard and Jennell Carter holding an oversized check for $50,000.
Courtesy / Gorham Savings Bank
Alicia Menard, left, and Jennell Carter of Casco Bay Creamery won $50,000 last year in Gorham Savings Bank's LaunchPad competition.



'Steadfast' support for local business

The 2019 Grand Prize went to Casco Bay Creamery, co-founded by Jennell Carter and Alicia Menard.

Carter, who has encouraged other entrepreneurs to apply, told Mainebiz Tuesday she is sure that in canceling this year's competition, Gorham Savings "made the best decision available."

Looking at the bigger picture, Carter said that Gorham Savings continues to be a "great alley" for small business, in providing resources and opportunities such as Forward With Funding. That program is described online as a program that helps early-stage businesses move forward.

"Though LaunchPad is canceled this year, their support for local business remains steadfast," she said.

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