Sarah Brandon Art – Steuben

Sarah Brandon hand lettering the name Smoke on the back of a boatSarah Brandon moved to Maine over 30 years ago, inspired by Maine’s beauty and strong art community. She knew this was the perfect location to fulfill her artist aspirations. Sarah specializes in the traditional hand lettering for custom boats and small signs. She also creates watercolor paintings, unique durable floor cloths, cards, and many other art offerings all inspired by Maine’s nature. Read More

Tips to Navigating the Labor Shortage

limited hours sign

Photo Credit: Hope Davison |

You are not alone. The labor shortage has been crippling for small businesses across Maine. While the crisis is not new, the pandemic has amplified the problem. There is a variety of contributing factors to the labor situation including the availability of childcare, housing, and foreign workers. While nearly 7 out of 10 pandemic job losses have been recovered, there is still competition with enhanced unemployment benefits which are set to expire in September. Even once we’ve recovered from the pandemic, the Maine Department of Labor’s outlook of the labor market is troubling, expecting a loss of nearly 16,000 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Here are some tips to navigating the situation for your small business:

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Shore Path Cottage – Bar Harbor

Shore Path Cottage porch view with tables and water in the distanceShore Path Cottage is located on the coastline in Bar Harbor overlooking Frenchman’s bay and less than two miles from Acadia National Park. They offer one the most comfortable and scenic B&B’s in the State of Maine. Roberta Chester has maintained the history of the 1880 building while incorporating innovations and modernization for her guests. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shore Path Cottage suffered immensely, having to close its doors due to safety concerns and guidelines. Roberta had to identify ways to sustain the losses from 2020, and that’s when she contacted the Maine Small Business Development Center. Read More

Expose Design LLC – Portland

Victor Rio, founder of Expose Design LLC loading a car with marketing materialsSince 2008, Victor Rios and his business Expose Design LLC has provided small businesses with customized marketing solutions that help them grow. Expose Design offers all things marketing including graphic design, logo creation, print work, embroidery, screen-printing, and promotional content creation. Like most small businesses, Expose Design took a financial hit during the pandemic. This in combination with some previous high-interest debt had Victor concerned about his future. He was referred to the Maine Small Business Development Centers for assistance understanding funding options to help in the recovery process.Read More

Better Living Center – Farmington

Better Living Center Logo - Purple tree with large canopy and roots overlaid with initials BLC and words Eat Well Live BetterWayne Drake had a unique opportunity, to purchase and take over the business where he began his professional career. When Wayne was a teenager, he worked at Better Living Center, an organic, whole food store located in Farmington Maine. He not only assisted with customer service duties but helped with bookkeeping, payroll, and ordering supplies. This experience sparked Wayne’s interest in pursuing a banking and law enforcement career. Years passed but Wayne never forgot the values he gained at Better Living Center. When the previous owners were ready to sell, Wayne jumped at the opportunity.

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Lessons Learned:  Weathering the Financial Storm

Skip Bates, of Bangor Savings Bank says "Everything that mattered before, matters more now."The first in a series of blog posts of what the small business community learned from Covid 19

Economic downturns have been a regular but painful part of small business ownership. Yet unlike other recessions, Covid 19 hit Main Street businesses first and hit them hardest. When it comes to financing your business, this advice from lenders and advisors will make a big difference when times are tough.

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Lessons Learned – A Series

Lessons LearnedOver the last 16 months, Maine small business owners were put to the test by a global pandemic. Over the next few months, the SBDC will offer a series of articles focused on the lessons learned from one of the most challenging years in our collective history. Look for posts on how to finance a new or expanding business in today’s market; what it means to pivot your business, things to consider when crafting a remote work policy, and more.

Part 1: Weathering the Financial Storm 

Part 2: What Does it Mean to “Pivot”

Part 3: Designing the Workplace After The Pandemic

Part 4: Online Sales and Marketing 

Part 5: Top 6 Trends Impacting Businesses

Part 6: Disaster & Crisis Planning


Live Life Family Practice – South Paris

After years of practicing in a large medical facility, Cortney struggled with the all-encompassing role the insurance industry played in providing care. To remove this from the equation and provide more direct care in addressing her patients’ needs, she launched her own private practice based on a Direct Primary Care Model, in which a subscription-based payment model provides all of the basic care needs for an individual or family.

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Why Customer Service Matters This Summer

After a trying year, tourists and locals alike are looking forward to enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Thankfully, things are looking up this summer tourism season and Maine is expected to have a bustling summer.  As we prepare, we have to keep in mind the individual struggles people have experienced over the past year. Here are some tips to make sure your customers have a positive and memorable experience that they are desperately seeking.

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Circle Two Disc Golf – Bradford

Circle Two Disc Golf Logo

Disc golf has been rapidly growing in popularity as both a recreational activity and a professional competitive sport. Andrew Kahl is an active member of Maine’s disc golf community and wanted to create his own course on his family’s land. He reached out to the Maine SBDC at CEI for assistance understanding what is involved in starting his own business.

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