By Carol Coultas
Portland Press Herald, Maine.
There was a lot of good back-and-forth at a roundtable of women business owners convened Monday by the Small Business Administration.
The session, intended to solicit feedback for the federal business assistance agency, covered a lot of ground, but attendees agreed that one of the greatest challenges is awareness of what assistance exists for entrepreneurs — regardless of whether it’s SBA-sponsored.
Claudia Raessler, who operates Saco River Dyehouse, launched her manufacturing operation two years ago. A lawyer, she’s not cowed by complicated documents, but the lack of coordination among agencies and programs designed to help startups in Maine was staggering, she said.
Her idea — which had a lot of heads nodding in agreement — is to tie SBA loan approval to certain conditions that would connect resources to entrepreneurs.
“Like everyone else here, my biggest challenge is time,” she said.
She suggested that the SBA tie loan approval to three conditions: that an applicant join a relevant trade association or industry group; that she receive information about other available resources; and that she present a marketing plan at the time of the loan application.
SBA officials were scribbling like mad.
Verso is still wending its way through a $1.4 billion merger with NewPage. The two paper companies announced plans to merge in January and have been working on the details ever since. Combined, their mills in Jay, Rumford and Bucksport employ about 2,000 Mainers.
According to Verso’s most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it’s been a costly process.
Costs incurred through the merger process so far total $18 million. The filing says the merger is still on track to close this year.
I sat with some great dinner companions at the HM Payson 160th birthday bash last week. Prime among them was John Doyle, an attorney at Preti Flaherty. John confided that he was dabbling in some photojournalism, inspired by the success of his son, Patrick, who is an associate editor at Rolling Stone.