LEWISTON — Board Chairman Dan Thayer announced that he’d like to continue the innovative Launch L-A! entrepreneur contest every year, first-time winner Chelsea Fournier revealed the location of her new business and the Tardy brothers juggled a battle axe and toilet plunger.
An altogether full night at The L-A Tonight Show, the annual dinner of the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council spun into a talk show format Thursday for the second year in a row.
“I am just a poor boy from the mean streets of Buckfield, Maine,” host Mike Miclon said at the top of the evening, in front of a crowd of hundreds at the Ramada Conference Center. “It was always my dream to make it to L-A. And here I am.”
The evening clicked along with guests such as Thayer and Fournier taking to Miclon’s couch.
Thayer said LAEGC had projects current or pending with the turnpike, local airport and Auburn Industrial Park. He said it’s assembled a “dream team of business leaders” to create the LA Future Forum, a group meeting every other month.
“(Launch L-A!) is something we definitely have to continue in Lewiston-Auburn, it’s our future,” Thayer said. “I hope we can continue it every single year.”
Fournier, who won the contest with a prize package of nearly $100,000 by community vote in March, said she’d open Lifestyles Massage in September at the 600 Turner Street plaza in Auburn. She plans to start advertising for massage therapists soon.
“Our vision and our hope is that five years from now the community will look back on Launch L-A! (and say), ‘Wow, that’s changed the community for the better,'” Fournier said.
Luke Livingston, president of Baxter Brewing Company, told Miclon that seasonal beers were in the works for his company and that in two weeks walls inside his brewery would come down to make way for additional tanks, doubling capacity in response to high demand. Asked about the perks of using aluminum cans, Livingston pointed to recycled material and the ability to stay fresh on the shelf for weeks.
“Like they’ll last that long, but that’s cute,” Miclon quipped.
As part of the evening, both cities also honored businesses with Economic Achievement Awards.
* Baxter Brewing Company – Brewing and canning beer in rehabbed space in the Bates Mill. Livingston has invested nearly $1.4 million in the new company.
* Compounding Solutions – Compounding medical plastics and specialty products like L.L. Bean boot soles. It’s expanding into a $3 million, 28,000-square-foot addition.
* Rancourt & Company – Making hand-sewn, high-end shoes, bought back by Michael Rancourt and his son, Kyle, last year. It’s grown from 20 employees to more than 50.
* Bedard Medical – A pharmacy founded in Lewiston that’s expanding into Auburn and opening a new corporate office on Minot Avenue. It’s grown from six employees in 1967 to nearly 60 after the latest expansion.
* TD Bank’s Auburn Mall call center – With an abundance of green features, it opened in July 2010 and has space to employ 500.
* Provider Financial – One of 23 companies owned by Kevin Dean and Emile Clavet, it added 44 new jobs in Auburn last year after an expansion on Rodman Road.
Both cities jointly honored Lewiston Auburn Magazine, which this year helped host the first Lewiston Auburn Film Festival in April.