By Dawn Gagnon, Of the NEWS Staff - BANGOR - Have a craving for confections made with Maine-grown cranberries or blueberries? Looking for handmade jewelry, baskets or textiles? Need a rodent removed from your home?These were just a few of the products and services showcased by the more than 50 Maine entrepreneurs and artisans who took part in Saturday's Incubator Without Walls MarketPlace at the Bangor Civic Center.
According to organizers, the intent of the project was to provide participating "micro businesses," or enterprises with five or fewer employees, opportunities to network with other businesses and draw from each other's customer base. Fleet Bank sponsored the event, which drew several hundred.
The featured business owners are graduates of the Eastern Maine Incubator Without Walls program, which provides classes, one-on-one technical assistance and networking opportunities for individuals interested in starting or expanding a small business.
Participants typically learn how to develop business and marketing plans, obtain financing and deal with pricing and various other aspects of starting or sustaining a small business. The program is offered in Penobscot, Hancock, Piscataquis, Washington and Waldo counties.
Nancy Holmes of the Weownit Cranberry Co. in Jonesboro is a graduate of the program. The company she founded in 1997, after having been a cranberry grower for more than 30 years, also employs her son and two teenaged grandsons.
Her products include jellies, bread and cookie mixes and chocolate- and yogurt-covered cranberries and blueberries, some of which are sold under such catchy names as Puffin Eggs, Moose Poops and Lobster Eggs. She sells to customers from throughout the United States as well as other countries including China, Russia and Ireland.
Holmes said she explored other programs while starting her business but chose to participate in the Incubator Without Walls program.
"This is the only one that came through for me," she said. "It's also been an excellent way of meeting other Maine business owners that have the same problems I do."
Pearl Young and her husband, Carl Young, also participated in the marketplace. Their Eastport business, North End Boats & Crafts, offers a line of handmade wooden nautical ornaments comprised of 10 types of boats, a sardine factory and a lighthouse. The ornaments are sold individually and by the half-set and full set. The company also offers jewelry made from the sea glass she gathers at area beaches and note cards.
"I can't say enough about the [incubator] program," she said on Saturday. "I got everything out of it that I put into it."
Former Bangor police Dispatcher Mahlon "Woody" Wood is owner of Pestco of Maine. Pestco, which has a work force of three, offers chemical-free means of removing or deterring skunks, bats, rats, mice, birds, squirrels, snakes and raccoons.
One of the most valuable things he learned during the incubator course was how to develop a business plan, he said.
"No matter what you want to do, you need a business plan," he said.
The Incubator Without Walls program is offered by Eastern Maine Development Corp. in conjunction with the Washington-Hancock Community Agency, Penquis Community Action Program, and the Waldo County Committee for Social Action. The Maine Small Business Administration provides technical training to some incubator participants.
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