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New Machias building to make a big difference for small business in Washington County

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 6:38 PM EST
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MACHIAS, Maine (WABI) - The mission of the Sunrise County Economic Council in Machias is to facilitate job creation and prosperity in Washington County. Next spring, the council will launch a small business hub on Main Street for entrepreneurs and existing small businesses that don’t have space of their own.

According to SCEC’s Entrepreneurship Program Director Denise Cilley, by the time spring rolls around, the building on Main Street known as the Nash Building will be torn down to make way for a structure that will be known as the Maine Street Business Building.

“The plan has always been to develop the space, “she said. “So that it could be a shared co-working space for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs of Washington County where they could connect into high speed broadband, collaborate, work in private spaces, conduct meetings.”

The site was gifted to the Sunrise County Economic Council in 2018 by Machias Savings Bank, along with two-hundred thousand dollars as a seed donation to a capital campaign to raise more than a million dollars for construction of the new building. Grant help from the USDA and a donation of nearly a quarter of a million dollars from the Libra Foundation pushed the capital campaign over the finish line.

“It’s really powerful,” said SCEC Executive Director Charles Rudelitch. “That combination of support from statewide philanthropy, the federal government, a key local business, and dozens of local people and small businesses which are just as important to show that connection, and we’re really grateful for it.”

“A lot of folks that I know that have been successful in business, they grew up in it,” Machias Savings Bank President & CEO Larry Barker said. “So, we want to help people grow up in it. You know, we tried to, in a sense, replace that dinner table conversation that a lot of young entrepreneurs grew up hearing mom and dad and aunts and uncles talk about business. At the end of the day, a lot of our kids want to continue to live, work, and raise their families here, and we want to make sure they can keep doing that.”

The Maine Street Business Building will have designated desk workspaces, furnished private office and meeting options, a conference room, kitchen amenities, and more to go along with onsite technical assistance.

And as Machias says “goodbye” to the Nash Building, it says a hopeful “hello” to a more vibrant downtown.

“We’re not going to be celebrating when the building comes down,” Rudelitch said. “Demolishing the building honestly is sad. Our goal was to renovate it. We will be celebrating when the new one opens. I am really looking forward to seeing a bunch of small business owners in there working, working on their ideas, having training, you’re having a good space, good view of the river, right downtown, and I’m really looking forward to that energy on Main Street.”

For more information and to follow the progress of how the Maine Street Business Building is coming along, visit mainestreetbusiness.org.

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