Some Lisbon businesses want to have an organization that represents them specifically.

That hope is becoming a reality with Moxie Commerce. The group would allow businesses to network, share resources and collaborate.

The idea came together as part of the entrepreneurship initiative being carried out in the town, said Lisbon Economic Development Director Brett Richardson.

“We did extensive planning process and got inputs from a variety of businesses and local stakeholders. In the process, some business owners identified an opportunity to have an organization in town that could represent local businesses and support them,” Richardson said.

Keena Tracy, the owner of Little Ridge Farm in Lisbon and Moxie Commerce president, said they are trying to create a space where businesses can ask other businesses questions.

“Several business owners had come together for the entrepreneurship workshops. During these meetings, we realized that it would be helpful to have a business-centered organization where businesses within the town can collaborate on things like marketing or buying products,” said Tracy.

Their website indicates business owners willing to be mentors to other businesses.

While the Moxie Hub downtown business center is geared towards providing physical space for people starting a new business, the Moxie Commerce is more like the nuts and bolts of the business, where discussions on different business topics can help local businesses throughout the year, said Tracy.

“If someone is starting a new business, they could contact one of those mentors and ask questions on licensing or finding a property,” added Tracy. “We will use each other’s interest and expertise to help each other out within the business community.”

According to the National Maine Street Center’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development findings report released in 2020, more than 50% of Lisbon’s business owners felt that place-based forms of technical assistance found in incubators, co-workspace, or maker space were unavailable in the town.

Regionally, there is an extensive list of training and educational programming for multiple stages in the business life cycle. However, programming is not offered locally, stated the report.

The Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce serves the entire Androscoggin County. However, Tracy said, Lisbon is different than Lewiston and Auburn.

“We are trying to create a scaled-down Chamber of Commerce that can be a business resource for businesses,” said Tracy. “It is Lisbon-centered, where we are meeting the needs of people living in the town, rather than the greater Androscoggin area.”

Anyone who wants to be a member of the organization must pay $100 annual membership dues.

The organization initially received $3,000 through the entrepreneurial grant from the Maine Community Foundation. Moving forward, the members will depend on the membership dues to keep the website up and running.

The organization’s members are currently spreading information about the organization by word-of-mouth and through the website and they plan to launch the organization full-fledged by January 2022.


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