Sunrise County Economic Council, sponsor of the Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, recently crossed $850,000 in committed funds for its $1.05 million capital campaign, bringing the project one step closer to reality and providing a future home for the County’s burgeoning entrepreneurial community. Three early lead gifts set the stage for success with Northern Border Regional Commission pledging $345,000, Machias Savings Bank contributing $200,000 and Sunrise County Economic Council backing the effort with a commitment of $200,000.

Additional local businesses have donated over $100,000 with gifts from Bangor Savings Bank, Pratt Chevrolet, RH Foster Energy, LLC, Whitney Family of Companies, First National Bank, Dunkin, Accompany Co, Narraguagus Bay Company, Maine Community Foundation and Fisher Charitable Trust. Numerous individuals have also shown support for the effort through monetary donations.

Businesses and individuals can make additional gifts by pledging at http://www.machiasvalleycenter.org.

Contributions will fund the construction, outfitting and launch of the new business center located on Main Street in Machias. The center will provide coworking space, offices, technology resources and professional assistance for entrepreneurs and business owners in Eastern Maine. A video update on the project can be viewed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ji8kLgH_3bs

Larry Barker, CEO of Machias Savings Bank, serves as campaign chair with fellow committee members Dan Qualls, UMM interim director; David Whitney, owner Whitney Family of Companies; and Ian Pratt, owner of Pratt Chevrolet in Calais. Barker states, “The Center is a game changer for our community. In addition to providing virtual programming and education, aspiring business students, new entrepreneurs and current business owners will have a physical home to connect and learn. The building will communicate a new message of hope – one that says we’re serious about building business in our community.”

Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship is a program of SCEC. SCEC was founded in 1993 by a group of business and community leaders and actively promotes a grassroots approach to economic and community development. By seeking common ground, working across traditional political, municipal and economic boundaries, the Council is working with Washington County residents to build a brighter future.

The Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship will be a hub of vibrant networking, programs, and opportunities that support Washington County and Eastern Maine entrepreneurs and small business owners as they create jobs and prosperity across the region.

Denise Cilley, SCEC’s entrepreneurship program director, states, “Throughout our design processes for the Center and programs, we continuously listened to our business community’s expressed needs and wants. This approach was crucial to laying a foundation for success. We aim to build and serve through communication and collaboration with all stakeholders – creating with, not for.”

Coaching, collaboration and programming have taken place successfully in the virtual realm during the pandemic. In partnership with Washington County Community College and Four Directions Development Corporation, and in collaboration with over 40 network partners statewide, several programs focused on entrepreneurship and workforce development have been created and are currently running. Since January of 2020, SCEC’s virtual accredited programs, online community, and coaching have served over 275 individuals across more than 130 businesses statewide, 40 percent of which are based in Washington County. These programs and technical assistance services have served over 30 individuals in minority and underserved populations, which continue to be a focus for all efforts.

Denise Cilley addressed the Center’s virtual program success with the following comment: “Earlier this year, I was asked to describe Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship’s present success in six words or less. Words that immediately came to mind were responsive, inclusive, flexible, adaptable, inviting, and connective. These six words have carried us through several successful program developments, and I believe keeping these words at the core of everything we do will help us continue to serve our region, and beyond, in a meaningful way.”

SCEC is continuing to accept both multi-year pledges and donations to advance the Center. To view the building layout and space designs, regularly updated list of donors, and a complete list of program offerings, partners and funders, please visit http://www.machiasvalleycenter.org.