Entrepreneurial Technical Assistance Center
Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) is proposing to assist potential entrepreneurs to expand or locate to the Aroostook Washington Economic Development District (AWEDD) to put underutilized infrastructure and assets into production.
The AWEDD has experienced a 4.5% drop in population since 2000. The situation is even more grim looking back five decades. Aroostook County’s population was 106,064 in 1960 per the US Census. Recently released statistics reveal an Aroostook County population of less than 68,000. Washington County population peaked in 1991 at 35,552. In 2015 the US Census Bureau estimated that figure to be 31,625.
The goal of the Entrepreneurial Technical Assistance Center (ETAC) is to encourage and support a new generation of entrepreneurs in the AWEDD region and thus significantly improve the region’s chances to grow the economy and jobs through the support of small business success. This investment will implement specific solutions to leverage the AWEDD’s existing regional economic advantages and regional assets to support economic development and job creation.
NMDC is focusing on several core tasks for developing the ETAC:
- Identify, locate, and target entrepreneurial talent in the AWEDD
- Convene groups of entrepreneurs to identify the challenges and barriers entrepreneurs face that could be addressed by the ETAC
- Identify and build sustainable working partnerships with entrepreneurial resource providers outside the region that will provide entrepreneurs access to their services
- Provide entrepreneurial training classes, customized one-on-one counseling, youth entrepreneurship programs, and access to financial capital
- Create a culture of entrepreneurship by developing programs and events that spark ideas and entrepreneurs, e.g., social/network gatherings, business plan competitions, inventor and innovation hubs, etc.
- Develop a regional network of sponsors and supporters who will share their information and advice with existing and aspiring entrepreneurs
- Establish a diverse network of pro bono service providers for legal and accounting work, marketing and graphic arts assistance, business plan development, financial planning, etc.
- Categorize and catalog the region’s specific entrepreneurial strengths and development assets
- Grow social and business media groups to help entrepreneurs connect with their peers and service providers, e.g., Meet-Up.com, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, etc.
- Recruit, train, and support regional teams of entrepreneur coaches
- Manage entrepreneur intake and screening to develop a strategic portfolio of clients based on both opportunity and targeting