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The Machias Valley Center For Entrepreneurship, a small-business incubator and shared work environment, will be opened in the long vacant Nash building in downtown Machias. Machias Savings Bank, which had purchased the distressed landmark in 2017, is gifting the property to Sunrise County Economic Council, along with over $200,000 in building funds and endowment. The initiative, designed to create an entrepreneurial support system intended to stimulate small business development in the region, will be overseen by SCEC.

“We knew when we bought it that the property could have a significant impact on the revitalization of downtown, we just didn’t know in what capacity,” explained Larry Barker, Machias Savings Bank President and CEO. “After months of study, and brainstorming with the folks at SCEC, we realized that this was the ideal space for the center. As a result, we believe it will have a significant impact not only on Main Street, but on the extended region of Washington County as well.”

“It will be a multi-faceted resource for small business owners, and for people who want to start small businesses”, shared Charles Rudelitch, Executive Director of SCEC. “We hope to bring those resources here, including mentoring, guidance, and equipment, to a single place, where they can come together to make their dreams a reality.”

“Being downtown does have its challenges however,” noted Rudelitch. “And working with a historic building that’s important to the fabric of the village has its challenges. But we also think it gives us the potential to do more than one thing with this investment – both to help small businesses to succeed, but also to use this investment as a tool to show a way that these historic structures can be renovated into modern, usable space, in a manner that’s inspiring and takes advantage of the river, while simultaneously creating more energy, more Main Street foot traffic, and more hope in the village center.”

“We understand the importance of small-business, especially in our rural community,” Barker emphasized. “We’ve been helping small businesses grow for many years. We also understand the challenges. And we know that one of our best ways to grow our community is grassroots and bootstraps, one small business at a time. We are committed to our hometown, and the revitalization of downtown. This is just the first wave of a renewed investment in Machias, and the extended community.”

Rudelitch said that he hopes they will begin the renovation in the spring, and that they plan on engaging a multitude of players in the initiative, including area high schools, colleges, non- profits, foundations and a wide range of the region’s successful business owners.

“We have a rich heritage of ingenuity, resolve, and perseverance here on the Bold Coast,” Barker stressed. “All qualities an entrepreneur needs. The center will allow us to leverage that proven history by establishing a critical support system, open to the public, to guide those entrepreneurs young and old alike, and help spur significant economic growth in our community.”