Business to help low-income workers become self-sufficient

River Valley business leaders announced today the formation of The Good Fisher, a Maine, non-profit micro-business incubator and training facility that assists low-wage workers develop the requisite entrepreneurial skills necessary for success and self-sufficiency in the 21st century economy.

Most economic development efforts take a top-down approach, focused on helping mid-sized businesses relocate into or expand within the geographic region. While this can be beneficial, it fails to address the plight of the existing low-income workers who make up the majority of the earning potential within a rural region like the River Valley. The Good Fisher approaches economic development from another perspective – from the bottom-up – and focuses on helping low-income families to become more self-sufficient through the local development of market-centered, high-value, labor-intensive products.

“There is an overwhelming undercurrent of hopelessness in the River Valley that has been gaining ground for the past 20-years,” said Mark Henry, a Rumford native and Executive Director of the Good Fisher, “People have seen the same ideas presented over and over again, but nothing seems to change. The River Valley has great potential in its people and location, and The Good Fisher is committed to helping restore the economic viability of the region, while renewing pride in our community.”

The River Valley’s displaced workers are already entrepreneurs in the modern sense; they are tough, stubborn, hard-workers who struggle every day to survive in a shifting market. What they need is the opportunity to translate their skills and hobbies into the development of in-demand products. The Good Fisher provides the assistance needed to develop their product, create a realistic business plan, identify their market and distribution channels, and reach that market.

River Valley residents chosen to participate in the Good Fisher’s program will enter an intensive five-year training and mentoring process. Using this approach, at the end of the fifth year of operation, The Good Fisher will have graduated 200 entrepreneurs generating $3.4 million dollars of new income to the region.

“The Good Fisher is presently working to raise the necessary start-up funds,” said Mr. Henry, “and we’re planning to host our first class in the fall of 2008.” For more information you can contact Mark Henry at 207-332-3995 or [email protected]

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