Central Maine business briefs: Maine Venture Fund partners with Dirigo Labs

WATERVILLE — Maine Venture Fund has announced a new partnership with Dirigo Labs, a startup accelerator launched by the Central Maine Growth Council, to increase capital investment into companies located in central Maine. Dirigo Labs will provide MVF with “boots on the ground” in the region and develop a channel through which companies can learn about the equity financing options available from MVF. In turn, MVF will participate in Dirigo Labs accelerator programming and work directly with companies to help them understand the fundraising process and identify sources of capital in Maine and beyond, including, but not limited to, Maine Venture Fund itself, according to a news release from Maine Venture.

Dr. Brien Walton, MVF board chair, stated, “Partnering with Dirigo Labs follows the MVF board’s strategic priority of expanding impact across Maine. As a lean team, MVF can be more efficient by working to support existing regional partners rather than recreating those resources. The relationship with Dirigo Labs and the Central Maine Growth Council is a perfect example of this type of partnership, to better connect the state’s resources with dynamic leaders on the front lines of growing central Maine’s economy.”

Susan Ruhlin of Dirigo Labs agreed. “As Maine’s venture capital fund, it made sense to ally with Maine Venture Fund to ensure that participating Dirigo Labs startups have direct access to state funding that seeks to support high growth companies. Maine Venture Fund’s demonstrated success in the state over the past 25 years bolsters the potential for new economic development organizations like Dirigo Labs to gain a foothold and thrive over the next 25 years in better serving the central Maine region.”

MVF is already engaging with several of the companies enrolled in the Dirigo Labs inaugural accelerator class in a range of activities from general fundraising education to capital investment evaluation. MVF expects to leverage the newly announced MVF Microfund program to offer a wider range of equity funding options to the companies at Dirigo Labs and in the wider central Maine region.

Ed Goff Submitted photo

Skowhegan Savings Bank hires assistant vice president and commercial lender

Skowhegan Savings Bank has announced that Ed Goff had joined the bank as an assistant vice president and commercial lender. He comes to the bank with more than 19 years of experience in small business ownership, including a construction equipment rental business and a chain of car washes from Skowhegan to Brunswick. His businesses have been recognized by numerous awards, highlighted in world trade magazines and he has received the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Impact Award.

“We’re pleased to welcome Ed to our commercial lending team,” said Steve Thomas, senior vice president and senior commercial lender, according to a news release from the bank. “His successes as a Maine business owner will be a unique asset to our commercial customers in assisting them with their financial needs and goals today and into the future.”

Goff will be based out the bank’s Augusta branch and will assist the bank’s business customers in central and southern Maine.

“As a former small business owner for nearly 20 years, Skowhegan Savings Bank has always been there to support my businesses’ financial needs and goals,” said Goff. “I now look forward to joining the commercial team where I can return that level of support, shown to me, to other Maine business owners on behalf of the bank.”

Denis Bergeron, left, was recently presented awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Maine Public Utilities Commission Chairperson Philip L. Bartlett II during the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners. Submitted photo

Maine Public Utilities Commission analyst receives Lifetime Achievement Award

HALLOWELL – Denis Bergeron, utility analyst and coordinator of Regional Market Programs at the Maine Public Utilities Commission, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners.

Bergeron has worked in state government in leadership positions for 35 years. For the last 15 years, he has been the commission’s lead analyst and outspoken advocate for Maine at New England Power Pool, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Independent System Operator-New England, and New England States Committee on Electricity.

“Denis is highly regarded and is considered a leading expert on New England transmission and generation issues,” said PUC Chairperson Philip L. Bartlett II, according to a news release from the commission. “His passion in advocating both for Maine and for the New England region is unparalleled.”

Bergeron has received many accolades in his career. In 2013 he was recognized by Efficiency Maine for his “commitment to energy efficiency.” He was also recognized by the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership for his “outstanding commitment, leadership and service to NEEP and its mission to accelerate energy efficiency as a leading climate change solution.” NECPUC also previously honored Denis in 1999 and again in 2013 with its George Dunn Award, which recognizes staff who have performed in an exemplary fashion on issues of regional importance or impact.

“Here at the commission, I can say unequivocally that Denis is relied on extensively by myself, my fellow commissioners and our directors on strategic issues related to generation, transmission and distribution matters facing Maine and New England,” Bartlett said. “Denis plans to retire this year and receiving recognition at the symposium is certainly a fitting way for Denis to end a stellar career.”

Maine Small Business Development Centers advisors receive certification

The Maine Small Business Development Centers, a statewide program that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, recognized eight business advisors who received their Core Competencies Certification from the New England professional development group on May 18. Newly certified advisors include Christine Cole (Portland), Tina Oddleifson (Portland), Anne Lancaster (Biddeford), Lori Allen (Auburn), Christina Ramsdell (Auburn), Brandon McDonald (Caribou), Alison Lane (Bangor) and Peter Piconi (Waterville).

The group is a professional development collaboration of the six Small Business Development Centers in New England and includes the Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island programs. Its program provides a comprehensive, core knowledge training program and is a key element of the SBDC’s ability to provide valuable and high-quality services to clients and meet the needs of stakeholders. The certification training is comprised of two elements — participation in specified online technical content and an in-person, two-day intensive group session.

The eight newly certified business advisors include:

• Christine Cole is located in Portland and serves small businesses in Cumberland and York counties.
• Tina Oddleifson is located in Portland and serves small businesses in Cumberland and York counties.
• Anne Lancaster is located in Biddeford and serves small businesses in York County.
• Lori Allen is located in Auburn and serves small businesses in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties.
• Christina Ramsdell is located in Auburn and serves small businesses in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties.
• Brandon McDonald is located in Caribou and serves small businesses in Aroostook County.
• Alison Lane is located in Bangor and serves small businesses in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.
• Peter Piconi is located in Waterville and serves small businesses in Somerset and Northern Kennebec counties.

Cornerstone expands capabilities in Maine with addition of new principal

Cornerstone, a leading bipartisan, employee-owned government relations and public affairs firm with federal and state reach, announced June 1 the addition of Matt Marks as a principal in the firm’s Augusta office. Marks brings to the firm more than 25 years of political experience and expertise in transportation and infrastructure, housing, climate and environment, energy, public safety, workforce development, and state appropriations.

“I’m delighted to join Cornerstone’s growing team in Maine, building upon their success delivering government and public affairs services. It’s an exciting transition for me, and I look forward to continuing work in Augusta,” Marks said, according to a news release from the firm.

Marks joins Cornerstone from the Associated General Contractors of Maine, the state’s most significant construction trade association, where he served initially as the chief operating officer in 2008. As COO, he managed regulatory efforts for the association’s Maine chapter and was selected as the chapter’s chief executive officer in August 2012. He led the AGC team that earned two national public relations awards for advocacy in this leadership position. He also serves on the Maine Climate Council, Maine Offshore Wind Advisory Committee and Offshore Wind Port Advisory Group. He is a Maine Business Immigration Coalition board member.

Previously, Marks served as the chief decision-maker in a Maine-based energy company, where he managed the daily operations and expanded business operations and sales. AGC Maine recruited Matt for his work with regulatory agencies, business management and political engagement.

Having received his Bachelor of Science degree focused in applied technical leadership from the University of Southern Maine, he was selected in 2013 as the University’s Applied Technology Alumnus of the year. Marks resides in Scarborough with his wife and children.

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Matt’s leadership experience joining the firm,” Managing Director Campbell Kaufman said. “Having served as CEO of such a prestigious organization, Matt will provide our clients and colleagues valuable insight into public policy discussions all over the state.”

At Cornerstone, Marks will work closely with Mike Cuzzi and Todd Webster to expand client work in Maine and throughout the northeast.

For more business news, visit CentralMaine.com.

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