AVON – April 30 marked the graduation of the sixth FASTTRAC entrepreneurial training class to be offered in Franklin County over the last five years. A total of 101 business owners and individuals looking to start a business have graduated from a FASTTRAC class in Franklin County since 2001.

The most recent class was offered at the the Opportunity Center of North Franklin County. The center is a not-for-profit organization that was formed in response to the closing of the Lauri Inc. toy factory, which dislocated 22 workers and left a fully functional building vacant over a year ago.

Through partnership with the Heart of Maine Resource Conservation and Development and Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, the center is turning it into opportunity by preparing entrepreneurs for the business world.

The FASTTRAC New Venture course, designed to help entrepreneurs evaluate the feasibility of their business ideas, was taught by Gordon Platt, a certified FastTrac instructor and Small Business Development Center counselor in southern Maine.

When Platt asked the graduates what they liked best about the course, one said, “I now have the tools I need to evaluate my business idea.”

Another graduate said it was the guest speakers from the local community, which included a marketing professor from UMF and several local FastTrac graduates. One business owner appreciated the outing to the Mantor Library at the University of Maine in Farmington, commenting that learning to access the market research resources there will be “useful forever.”

Platt and business development specialist Sarah Doscinski touted their partnership with Tessa Burpee of the Heart of Maine. Doscinski said, “Tessa has been instrumental in setting up these courses and the Opportunity Center was a fantastic partner to work with in bringing this course to the area.”

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