Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Gardiner

Gardiner Main Street is proud to announce that it has been awarded a grant by the Maine Downtown Center to Build an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, as part of a project by the Maine Downtown Center and National Main Street.

The $60,000 investment is a result of a 9-month process of educating Gardiner Main Street staff and board members on the importance of building a network that nurtures and supports local entrepreneurs and strengthens established business owners. The process included surveying residents and businesses on current conditions and missing resources.

As a result of this process, specific actions have been identified as first steps in building Gardiners entrepreneurial ecosystem and the grant funds will support this work during the next 4+ months:

How Gardiner Main Street is Supporting Entrepreneurs

  • Downtown Gardiner Space Inventory

    What spaces exist and are they being used? An inventory of existing spaces in downtown Gardiner will be performed to update current records and aid in matching available spaces to appropriate businesses with the goal of having full storefronts and a thriving economic district.

  • Workshops & Trainings

    Supporting budding entrepreneurs and current business owners with information and available resources: Offering workshops and training on topics critical to small business owner's success. Educational workshops will be offered on business topics ranging from finances, marketing, and legal responsibilities, and insurance. The workshops will be held in Gardiner at no cost.

  • Winter Market

    Coordinating a pop-up market in a downtown empty storefront, featuring small business owners who are ready to test the waters in having their own physical store, with the hopes of nurturing business owners to move into vacant spaces.

  • Downtown Business Forum

    Gathering downtown business owners, organizations, and residents to create a supportive network ready to host increased visitors coming to shows at the newly refurbished Johnson Hall Theater and thrive on economic dollars brought to town.

Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center was awarded a Congressionally Directed Spending Request by Senator King and Senator Collins through the Small Business Administration for Building Entrepreneur Ecosystems in Rural Maine.

Gardiner Main Street is one of nine sites selected to participate. This program is about building a support system for entrepreneurs whether they are just starting a business, wanting to open a bricks and mortar location or start an e-commerce site.

Gardiner Main Street is receiving $60,000 in funding plus consulting services and technical assistance. After going through an extensive ecosystem audit process identifying gaps and opportunities for supporting entrepreneurs Gardiner is now implementing programs that will support, attract and retain more entrepreneurs to downtown Gardiner.

About the Main Street Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Approach

The Main Street Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Approach is a framework for supporting a local and/or regional support system for entrepreneurs and small businesses in which “Place” centers our work.

Successful Entrepreneurial Ecosystems depend on cross-sector partnerships and collaboration. Main Street programs are in a prime position to convene key partners to assess gaps and opportunities within the local ecosystem.

Additionally, the importance of place is often missing from the dialogue around Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Main Streets are well-positioned to bring this place-based perspective to the table and help ensure that entrepreneurship support strategies leverage the distinct sense of place that makes your community unique.