LEWISTON — With a deadline still two weeks away, there haven’t been any takers yet in L-A’s first contest to launch a new company here, but it has inspired the local community college to start forming its own entrepreneurial effort.

Applications aren’t due for the Launch L-A 2010 contest until Dec. 1. Aimed at someone 30 or under who has moved away, the most promising start-up company will receive a prize package  that includes $12,000 in seed money and $73,000 in services, like a year’s free rent at an office downtown.

Paul Badeau, spokesman for the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, the contest organizer, said he has fielded calls and e-mails from people interested or with applications in the works. He has also spent an hour doing a live radio interview on Launch L-A with a station in Montana.

“This has gotten so much attention,” Badeau said. “Who knew out in Montana there’d be any interest?”

Susan Stacey, corporate training coordinator in corporate and community services at Central Maine Community College, said the contest got her thinking about non-credit courses that the college could offer to anyone. She has a name in mind, The Entrepreneur’s Academy. The class for people who’d like to start their own businesses would run between six and nine weeks, one night a week. It would be taught, in part, by local entrepreneurs who’ve already found some success.

Topics could cover how to raise capital, legal aspects and writing a business plan. Stacey said she’d love for a dozen people to take part and for them to continue sharing challenges and resources with each other after class ends.


“It becomes this community after finishing the program. They stay connected,” she said.

The plan is to start in either March or April, and run the academy once or twice a year depending on interest.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Stacey said. “I think this has a little different twist to it and it’s perfect on the heels of the Growth Council’s contest. Why not take that further?”

Badeau called the concept exciting and said LAEGC is happy to be a partner.

For its Launch L-A contest, he has gotten the sense that a lot of interested callers so far are from New England.

The application asks for a short pitch, a business plan, cash flow projections and a wow-factor. In December, judges — local business people, entrepreneurs and bankers, Badeau said — will narrow the field to two to three finalists. Those proposals will go online for a public vote in January.

Local businesses have so far donated services the winner’s prize package such as $10,000 worth of accounting, $15,000 in public relations and $4,500 in video production.

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