Buy local, thrive local — it’s an all-chamber Buzz.

Up first: Kate Frey and Ryan Dumond from Bangor Savings Bank walked through the bank’s Buoy Local app and program Thursday morning as the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s breakfast speakers.

Dumond said the app, which encourages users to frequent local merchants and creates a rewards program, had been in the works before the pandemic, but the times make it particularly apt.

About a dozen Twin Cities businesses so far participate.

“We really wanted to lift this up because at the chamber we see the potential to drive spending from L-A region consumers to L-A region businesses at a time when your business is really competing against the Amazons and the dot.coms of the world. This is a way to drive that, to support some online presence and for you to maybe even save some merchant fees,” chamber President Shanna Cox said.

Budding businesses

The chamber this week also announced the seven businesses making up the Top Gun LA Class of 2021.

There are big shoes to fill this year: Local teachers’ literacy app won the statewide entrepreneurial program pitch-off last fall.

From the chamber’s news release:

• Mohamed Awil, Azenaide Pedro and Abel Dias, Lewiston — Community Staffing Partners (startup)

Its mission is to build a diverse and inclusive workforce across Maine by helping foreign-trained New Mainers enter the job market.

• Maria D’Auria, Lewiston — The Maine Jerky Company (startup)

The company crafts protein-based snacks for people who enjoy being active outdoors.

• Tara Kieger, Lisbon — Sweet Cakes Bake Shop (existing business seeking growth opportunities)

The full-service retail and wholesale bakery specializes in custom cakes, pies, cupcakes, breakfast pastries, doughnuts and many other treats.

• Norman Patry, Lewiston native operating in Portland — Summer Feet Cycling (existing business seeking growth opportunities)

For 20 years, the company has offered cycling, walking, and multi-sport vacations that include tours in Maine, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Italy, Macedonia and Ireland.

• Jennifer Banis, Topsham — 111 Maine/Stay FnB (existing business developing spinoff company)

111 Maine, an existing wedding catering company, is developing a spinoff company, Stay FnB, that will work with a network of local chefs and others to upgrade staycations/vacations by bringing fresh locally sourced and prepared food and beverages to you.

• Jennie Hatch and Greta Warren, Bristol — DimeRise (startup)

DimeRise shows financial investors what kind of companies their funds support and connects them with financial products that better match their values.

• Joan Drappeau, Dresden — Slicpix (emerging company)

Slicpix is a storytelling platform where marketing teams can collaborate, create, publish and promote emotionally engaging stories.

Top Gun is a program out of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs with the Maine Technology Institute providing the $25,000 pitch-off prize. Business owners will work with mentors and experts over the next several months to grow their brands and skills.

“I’m really excited to start another Top Gun LA season and work with another diverse set of new and expanding companies, including some promising local startups,” chamber organizer Scott Benson said. “While we are based in L-A and most certainly focused here, we do cover a wider territory in the Top Gun network. I always look at it as an opportunity to help them become familiar with the L-A region, giving them an entry point to do business here too.”

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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