Sanford Micro-Enterprise Assistance Grant Award Winners Announced

February 4, 2015

The Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council is pleased to announce that the Sanford Micro-Enterprise Assistance Program has awarded its first grants to four deserving micro-enterprises. They are: Rugged Sound, an audio production company which provides live sound at concerts and events, studio sound services for musicians and filmmakers, and installation of high end audio equipment; Cannons at Noon Family Sheep Farm, a community supported agriculture business operating alongside a working organic sheep farm to grow organic produce and produce sheeps milk cheese and other goods for sale to their CSA members, at farmers markets and to local restaurants; Emily's Wood Fired Pizza, a pizza restaurant that also serves calzones, sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads and is looking to add a delivery service; and Neo Phoenix Studios, a multimedia production company offering professional video production services to local businesses and individuals.

The City of Sanford launched this new grant program in November 2014, aiming to provide financial assistance to qualifying micro-enterprises that planned on expanding or improving their businesses. Funding for the program was secured by the City from the State of Maine's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Micro-Enterprise Assistance Grant Program and is aimed at helping local businesses whose owner(s) meet income limits and who have five or fewer employees. Up to $100,000 in funds was available to be awarded to qualifying micro-enterprises in Sanford and Springvale.

Applicants met with a Business Counselor at the Small Business Development Center in Springvale to work on their business plans and submitted their completed plans along with their project proposals for review by a five member MEA Grant Review Committee. The committee assessed the proposals based on the following: 

Project Potential – how the proposed project will help to expand, strengthen, and/or increase the sustainability of the applicant business.

Probability of Success – evidence that the applicant has sufficient business acumen and has put significant effort into planning their business and thinking through the proposed project.

Risk – ratio of private to public funds coming into the project, evidence of financial stability, and signals of a solid footing in the local business community.

Other Factors– how well the project fits with Sanford’s character and supports its economic development goals.

The maximum grant award possible was $25,000. Grant winners are required to provide a cash match of at least 25% of the total project costs. The winning businesses had an opportunity to address the Sanford City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 3rd, to introduce themselves and their businesses and to talk about what they hope to accomplish with the help of the grant funds.

"The City of Sanford is to be commended for securing funds to directly assist small businesses in the community," said Growth Council director Jim Nimon. "The grant review committee is pleased with the micro-enterprises that applied and put themselves through a rigorous process. We will be monitoring their progress in 2015 and doing all we can to ensure their long-term success."

The Growth Council's February newsletter has profiles of the four winning companies.  A video of their presentations to the Sanford City Council can be viewed here. To view, click on "City Council Meetings" and choose the video titled "City Council 2-3-15". The MEA presentations run from 20:00-32:15.