By Rich Livingston

Feature Writer

The most dramatic element in the economic revitalization of Lewiston-Auburn might be the very visible changes along Lisbon Street in downtown Lewiston. New residents, new businesses, new energy, and a renewed sense of community are prominent. So, it’s completely appropriate that among the Chamber’s award winners are several of those who have contributed most directly to this vital resurgence.

The Business Leadership Award for a larger company will be presented to Argo Marketing, recently installed in its new corporate headquarters right in the middle of the Lisbon Street revival zone.

Founded in 2003 by Jason Levesque on his living room couch, the company has grown into an international powerhouse, providing telemarketing management, training, and logistical expertise to call centers worldwide, operating multiple call centers of its own that provide inbound customer acquisition and customer service retention operations.

The firm now employs over 500 trained professionals, and while its business model is such that Levesque could have established his headquarters virtually anywhere, he made a specific commitment to become a significant element of the new L-A downtown community.

The Business Leadership Award for a smaller company will also be presented to a new presence on Lisbon Street. Rainbow Bicycle has become a rallying spot for the robust and growing cycling community in central Maine.

Rainbow has been the go-to destination for bicycle sales, service, advice and camaraderie since its founding in 1982 by owner John Grenier. The shop helped fuel the area’s passion for cycling that has culminated in massive support for the Dempsey Challenge and the world-class cyclists who participate.

Rainbow Bike is now also the home of The Bread Shack Café, and has quickly established the downtown location as a landmark destination.

Former Lewiston City Councilor Craig Saddlemire is the recipient of the Public Service Leadership Award, and few people have had as much personal impact on the downtown community.

A filmmaker who documented the struggles of a downtown community to preserve its identity, Saddlemire became deeply immersed in the Visible Community project, an outspoken and authoritative spokesperson for and champion of the project and the neighborhood. Saddlemire’s documentary, Neighbor by Neighbor, found its way into urban planning, economics, and anthropology classes nationwide.

Commensurate with the focus on community revitalization, the Ray Geiger Award recognizes how deeply its namesake, the founder of Geiger Brothers, cared for his adopted hometown.

Art Boulay, past board chair of the Chamber, is a world-renowned business advisor who provides consulting and organizational development in the areas of strategic thinking and business planning, competency development, management systems and development, communication, recruitment, executive mentoring, leadership coaching, team building, personal and career development, and the Chamber and the community it serves have been the beneficiaries of his expertise and dedication to business and community for many years.

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