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USM helping Maine's small businesses thrive at best-in-nation rate

USM Science Building

USM is helping Maine’s small businesses thrive.

The state was just chosen by the Kaufman Foundation as number one in the country for start-up businesses after their first year.

The Maine Small Business Development Centers — though the University of Southern Maine —  is a leader in helping small business owners surmount first-year obstacles. Other groups include the Finance Authority of Maine and Coastal Enterprises Inc.

Together, the groups deliver cashflow planning and capital resources to the fingertips of small business owners, Mark Delisle, the State Director at the Maine Small Business Development Centers, told WCSH-TV.

“Maine is really a small business state," Delisle told the TV station. “You’re surrounded by other folks that are starting small businesses, a lot of people you can connect with, a lot of people you can ask advice from. It’s very welcoming for small business.”

According to the Kaufman Foundation’s Indicators of Entrepreneurship measure, Maine bested all other states with 88.13% survival, compared to 77.28% in New Hampshire and 78.82% in Vermont. Nationally, the one-year survival rate is 79.78%.

In 1977, the University of Southern Maine was among eight pilot sites funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration to test the concept of leveraging federal, state and higher education resources to assist entrepreneurs and spur economic growth. The program proved successful. 

Today, USM administers the Maine SBDC program through the College of Management and Human Service. A cooperative agreement with Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development enables the state to match the program’s federal funding.