MCED helps innovators fill in the gaps between their deep industry expertise and the strategic business skills critical to launching a scalable, sustainable venture. Maine's unique economic and geographic challenges demand more that a traditional business incubator. They demand a catalyst.

5 Minutes with John Holden Of Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council

Q. You are helping to bring Top Gun to Lewiston for 2017. What are your hopes for the program in your area? 

A. In November, 2015, I challenged my group and the community to become a “creative community.” LAEGC has established an Entrepreneur Development Committee to help facilitate, coordinate, and collaborate with others inside and outside LA Maine to inspire others to work together around entrepreneurship. That committee, with a few board members will be inclusive of many others in and around LA. Top Gun LA is one concrete example of how we can inspire and act as a catalyst in one of LAEGC’s primary segments—entrepreneurship. 

Q. What led you to a career in economic development?

A. I joke that when asked in second grade, “what do you want to be when you grow up…”  But in reality it was an evolution of my interest in environmental and ecosystem management and a desire to live and work in Maine. I worked in Baxter State Park one summer and when I had an opportunity to attend the University of Maine later, I jumped at the chance to make a life in Maine. I had a short stint back in Ohio, but was encouraged to return where I truly found my niche working with various groups, building coalitions, and helping build community and business.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the work that the Lewiston and Auburn Economic Growth Council does?

A. LAEGC has been working in collaboration with the City of Lewiston and Auburn for over 35 years. LAEGC adds value to each city’s economic development program by focusing on marketing and building coalitions to get projects done.  I had the opportunity to help re-design the focus of LAEGC and craft a community-wide economic development strategy when I came to LA 18 months ago and am so proud of the work our team, partners, and Board has done. Today, we have honed our focus on marketing for business development—entrepreneurship, existing business, and attracting new business and investment.  At the same time, we have collaborated to implement our community’s economic growth strategy, LA Maine: Forward.

Q. What excites you the most about Lewiston and Auburn's entrepreneurial scene?

A. It is just getting organized. I like to remind everyone that “entrepreneurism is not just for start-ups.”  LA Maine has a long history of entrepreneurism to become the manufacturing or “maker” community it is today. I am excited about using that heritage and the examples of creative, innovative entrepreneurial companies and facilitating collaboration to help build that an awareness of our own entrepreneurial environment.

Q. Why do you think Maine is a great state to start a business?

A. Just like my own story—Maine is a great place to live and raise a family. It is a small state and has a population and “community” that supports one another—and in particular supports entrepreneurs. The new MxG initiative is so natural in Maine, I am proud to be a small part of that.



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