Statewide business development program sets new funding record

A new report shows that a statewide program helped entrepreneurs and small businesses access $48.8 million in funding, more than in any other year of the program’s history.

In 2021, business advisors with the Maine Small Business Development Centers provided no-cost, confidential business advising to 2,953 entrepreneurs and small businesses, helping them access the capital.

Roughly 31% of the funding was through pandemic relief loans and grants such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan, Maine’s Economic Recovery Grant, and the Micro-Enterprise Grant program.

The number of businesses served nearly matched the SBDC’s record-setting volume of 2020 and doubled that of 2019. The support also helped start 136 new businesses — 40 more than in 2020 — and save or create 917 jobs, nearly double the number in 2020, according to the report.

“As the economic fallout of the pandemic continues, Maine SBDC business advisors worked to help business owners reclaim stability and balance. Business advisors helped entrepreneurs to find their financial footing, increase operational efficiency, and position themselves for success,” Maine SBDC State Director Mark Delisle said in a news release.

The program provided nearly 12,000 hours of advising and served business owners in communities across Maine. The demographic break-down of clients was:

  • 52% women entrepreneurs
  • 23% young entrepreneurs
  • 19% entrepreneurs with low-to-moderate Income
  • 10% minority entrepreneurs
  • 8% veteran and military-connected entrepreneurs
  • 7% entrepreneurs with disabilities. 

Courtesy / Maine Small Business Development Centers

This chart depicts client composition by industry.

In addition to advising, Maine SBDC provided free educational opportunities, including 99 webinars to 1,513 attendees, a new digital e-learning platform with 12 on-demand courses, and over 33,000 views on its YouTube channel.

The Maine SBDC is a program of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, and the University of Southern Maine. 

According to the report, the economic fallout of the pandemic continues to hit small businesses hard. 

“Supply chain disruptions, tightened labor markets and increasing inflation prove additional hurdles for already strained businesses,” it says.

The Maine SBDC estimates that, for every dollar invested in the centers, $3.22 was returned in incremental tax revenue.

To see the full report, click here.