Black Bear Support Services- Lewiston, Maine

Black Bear Support Solutions - Maine SBDCGrowing up as a daughter of a female entrepreneur, Laura Catevenis knew she was destined to start a business. From an early age, she watched her mother juggle a family, job, and college. After attending the same college as her parents and earning her Associates Degree, Laura discovered her passion for Human Service right away and knew the type of business she would start.

She followed this passion, beginning her career with an entry-level position at a Section 28 agency and working her way up the organizational chart. Here, she began understanding what it was like to operate this kind of business, and she worked hard to understand the MaineCare policies and procedures manual.  Laura also continued college, working toward her Bachelor’s degree, always listening for clues to the business world within the text and subjects.

Unfortunately, life has a way of throwing wrenches into our plans and after several ups and downs, Laura found herself and her infant daughter completely dependent on the state. It wasn’t until she was introduced to the ASPIRE program through DHHS, now known as Fed Cap, that things began to turn around. Through this program and with her dream of starting a business and being self-sufficient, she was introduced to New Ventures Maine’s Karleen Andrews.

Andrews supported Laura’s dream and was vital as Laura began her entrepreneurial journey, helping her stay focused and pushing her forward despite a stressful personal life. Andrews also recommended she meet with the Maine SBDC who helped her fine-tune her business plan and financial projections in order to secure financing to start her business.

After months of hard work, Black Bear Support Services, an approved MaineCare agency, finally came to fruition. Black Bear Support Services is a family oriented Section 28 agency servicing Maine. They work with children 0 through 20 with developmental disabilities in the home and the community.

Since it’s opening, Laura has learned how to manage multiple employees while balancing a business that has grown extremely fast. She’s watched their numbers increase rapidly and she isn’t the only one noticing their success. The State of Maine has requested many times that they expand to new cities in desperate need of services. In November 2017, Black Bear Support Services was asked by the State to adopt all clients and staff from a failing agency. They were able to successfully absorbed this agency and created a net profit in 3 months.

Laura is now the owner of a million dollar a year agency with 50 employees. Her goal for Black Bear Support Services is to expand across all services to ensure protection in the healthcare agency despite cuts, budgets, and legislation. Her mission now is to find the people who support and believe in her and her success. She continues to meet with Maine SBDC’s Rose Creps as she as her business expands and grows to support and serve Maine.