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February 14, 2020

Main Street Skowhegan launches tech grants for small business program

Photo / Maureen Milliken Main Street Skowhegan has launched a grant program that will give a boost to small businesses and entrepreneurs looking for technical and equipment assistance.

Skowhegan small businesses and startups have a new option for technical assistance and equipment needs through a Main Street Skowhegan program launched Thursday.

The organization's Business Enhancement Committee will offer grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 for need-based assistance to business owners in town, or entrepreneurs who are starting a business. There is $5,000 available for the program this year, and proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis.

As the start-up culture grows in the southern Somerset County town of 8,200, the need for the kind of assistance the grants offer has become more obvious, said Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan.

“Based on what we have learned through past entrepreneurial competitions and in conversations with our business owners, there’s a need for grant support that will provide that extra boost to kick-start a business idea or help a business grow,” Cannon said in a news release after Thursday's program launch.

Sam Hight, chair of the Business Enhancement Committee, said that the grants will play a supportive role in the the town's "positive entrepreneurial movement."

Local lenders step up

The committee has partnered with several lending institutions on the program, including Skowhegan Savings Bank, Franklin Savings Bank, New Dimensions Federal Credit Union and Franklin-Somerset Federal Credit Union.

"[The lenders] have not only funded our grant program, but have also joined our committee to better facilitate future business growth in Skowhegan," Hight said.

Cannon told Mainebiz Friday that the amount of lending institutions that are on board is a testament to Skowhegan being "an amazingly generous and supportive community." 

The grants can be used for things like professional marketing help; brand identity or web development; attending a course or taking advantage of a mentoring opportunity; hiring an architect, engineer, business adviser, or other specialist; buying a needed piece of machinery; legal support or more.

She said that as the program catches on, Main Street Skowhegan hopes to expand it. "Our hope is that we'll see success and can continue the grant program in the years to come."

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