MCE Newsletter – July 2021

A Letter from our Executive Director

Summer is in full swing and things are hopping at MCE as we return to in-person meetings, and launch a number of new programs and partnerships. It’s going to be a busy summer! Before I go there, we’d like to congratulate all of the 28 Top Gun businesses that persevered and completed Top Gun 2021 despite the global pandemic. We were equally impressed by the level of engagement of our Mentor Network, now over 200 strong, and their willingness to pitch in and support us. The quality of the companies in this year’s Top Gun was outstanding. A special shout out to congratulate “The Cubby,” winner of our Top Gun Showcase and the coveted $25,000 MTI cash prize.

As Top Gun was finishing, we also successfully concluded our first Visionary Leadership Program, a collaborative effort between the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Studies Center, MCE and Bangor Savings Bank. This new evening program featured some of Maine’s top experts on leadership development delivering “real world” actionable content to 17 founders, CEO’s and leaders of some of Maine’s most promising small businesses. Building on the positive feedback, the partnership will again offer this program in the Fall, in addition to a new sales training programStay tuned for more information and registration instructions for both.

Our new Bioscience Cluster Initiative is underway with the first five client businesses in our BioStartup Program, and many other one-on-one meetings taking place with prospective bioscience entrepreneurs meeting with our BioInnovate team. This initiative was launched with a consortium of partners including the Bioscience Association of Maine, MaineHealth Innovations, University of Maine, TechPlace at Brunswick Landing, and the Union River Center for Innovation in Ellsworth. Together, we are also planning our third annual Life Sciences Venture Summit for the Fall.

Thanks to our collaboration with FocusMaine, our food and beverage accelerator programs Cultivator and Marketshare are also seeing a strong uptick in interest. As we look forward our fifth year of supporting this critical sector, serving 63 growing food businesses, we are planning new programing to expand our capacity to serve seafood and aquaculture businesses. Because of our strong interest in the “blue economy” we also moved our offices to the New England Ocean Cluster where we see strong synergies and alignment, in addition to their beautiful co-working space on Portland’s working waterfront. Here at the “Hus” as they call it, we’re also planning programming to support Maine’s outdoor/recreation business in close coordination with the Maine Outdoor Brands trade association also located here. MCE received a generous grant from the Maine Community Foundation to support this emerging industry.

Following through on our commitment to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion, MCE and partners from FocusMaine and Maine Center Ventures teamed up for some thought provoking DEI training sessions this past Spring. We also awarded a scholarship to Community Staffing Partners, Lewiston, a Top Gun client that strongly supports a more diverse and equitable Maine economy.

Stay safe, stay in touch and enjoy your summer.
Tom Rainey

MCE Member Company Spotlight

This month we’re proud to feature two of our 2021 Top Gun companies who are dedicated to supporting Maine’s underserved communities.

The Good Crust

In honor of Michael Sheehan and his love for mentoring and helping grow young companies from the ground up, The Preti Flaherty law firm established the annual Michael Sheehan Memorial Award to be given to a selected MCE Top Gun entrepreneur. This year’s award recipient is Heather Kerner, founder of The Good Crust in Skowhegan. 

The Good Crust is committed to provide workforce development training opportunities to Mainer’s with unique needs through nourishing food that supports Maine’s farmers and millers. Their social mission integrates and welcomes Mainers with different cognitive and physical abilities to train on the dough packing team.

Community Staffing Partners

In 2021, MCE established the Top Gun Diversity Scholarship. This $500 scholarship was created to cover the Top Gun fee for a company that supports racial and gender diversity and inclusion. Awardees must demonstrate the readiness to be accepted into the Top Gun program, and have a business model that actively supports inclusivity and diversity in Maine. This year’s scholarship recipient is Community Staffing Partners in Lewiston.

Community Staffing Partners helps foreign-trained New Mainers successfully enter into the Maine Workforce by providing staffing services and cultural competency training sessions to both Employers and Job Seekers to create successful and lasting connections.

“Our organization exists to serve our community and promotes a Maine workforce that is diverse, inclusive and equitable. We are honored to have been selected as the recipient of this scholarship award which will allow us to continue to develop and fulfill our mission,” Mohamed Awil, Founding Partner of Community Staffing Partners LLC.

For more information about Community Staffing Partners, email careers@communitystaffingpartners.com

MCE Introductions

We have a couple new announcements that we’re excited to share. We’re confident they’ll help further our success.

Our Summer Intern

We’d like to welcome Dani Meader, our new Marketing and Communications Intern. Dani is going into her senior year at the University of Vermont, where she majors in Marketing and Accounting, and minors in Writing. At school, she is also the Treasurer of the Grossman Student Advisory Committee and the Accounting Club, as well as a committee member for the RALLYTHON Dance Marathon. Outside of school, she loves to bike, ski, and spend time with her friends and family. She’s looking forward to many learning opportunities with MCE.

Our New Location

We’re excited to officially announce our move to our new space at the Hús, a collaborative Blue Economy workspace managed by the New England Ocean Cluster. Located on the Portland waterfront, the Hús is an ideal location for MCE as its tenancy is comprised of organizations committed to growing the local economy, embracing Maine’s unique coastal resources, and supporting the State’s communities and workforce. Since moving in, we’ve already begun collaborating with the co-locating businesses and we’re just getting started!