Our economic development programming is focused on the idea that interlinked, strong, and diverse businesses will make island and remote coastal communities not only sustainable, but help them thrive. In addition to supporting strong community economic planning, we know that helping individual entrepreneurs succeed is a key way we can help affect a strong coastal economy. With support from the John T. Gorman Foundation, we are rolling out a comprehensive suite of small business support services that couple small business counseling with professional development grants, financing options, and financial and digital literacy seminars.
We have heard from many of these businesses that working with someone who understands their social commitments to sustaining their community is incredibly helpful when seeking support for a business idea. We have also heard that having access to patient, flexible capital focused on community-focused businesses is essential for good ideas to work. We know that living in a geographically isolated community can make it difficult for entrepreneurs to access important professional development opportunities and financial trainings can be impossible to attend given the travel constraints and money lost from leaving the business for an extended period of time. Our programming created to address these concerns is now available to all island and remote coastal communities.
The Island and Coastal Business Launchpad is our business support service available to entrepreneurs based in island and remote island communities who seek support for starting, growing, or improving their business. Our Island and Coastal Innovation Fund (ICIF) provides the flexible and community-focused capital needed for entrepreneurs to be successful. Our Microgrants for Entrepreneurship and Community Impact (MECI) are small grants intended to help ICIF applicants meet one of several community impact goals. Our Aquaculture Business Development (ABD) Program is intended to help prospective aquaculturists from fishing communities get their aquaculture farms started.
Through the new Launchpad program, we’ve already met some incredible people with inspiring and innovative business ideas. I’ve worked with someone starting an island’s only water taxi, supported a smoked lobster business (and the stuff is great!), helped with business planning for island farmers, and worked with many other talented entrepreneurs. Later this afternoon, in fact, I’ll be going to a meeting with a prospective mushroom farmer and introducing him to successful business owner already working in the industry to help make realistic cash flow projections for a new farm. These companies are helping to sustain their communities in innovative ways and we are excited to support their work.
Check out our website for more information on our new suite of business support programs, or to subscribe to our Commercial Currents newsletter focused on business best practices. We are eager to work with all island and remote coastal businesses so if you are a fisherman looking to diversify or add value to your product or a new water taxi business, and innkeeper, or a farmer, give us a call!