Business help availablePosted on December 22, 2020 | News
KATAHDIN REGION – Helping businesses navigate a global pandemic wasn’t what Katahdin Region Development Board (KRDB) Director Mike Elliot had in mind when he signed on to the job almost a year ago but that’s what he’s been doing and he’s happy to help.
If you aren’t one of the businesses that Elliott has been in contact with you could call him just to talk. He said he has access to a lot of information about various programs and resources that might help during this unusual business climate and beyond.
One of those programs is the federal paycheck protection program or PPP and Elliott said several businesses he has worked with have successfully obtained these valuable funds. He continues to work with them to make sure they maintain the proper paperwork to get the loans forgiven.
“A lot (of businesses) have taken PPP funds,” said Elliott, “there’s a lot of discussion on the federal level about how they’re being tracked and how to be forgiven. I’ve been helping with the tracking as there are a lot of concerns for businesses as to whether or not they’ll have to pay that back. Businesses don’t want to be taking on more debt.”
Elliott said he’s also been informing and advising businesses on other programs and resources available to them.
“I think the best thing the KRDB can do is blocking and tackling for businesses and help them with whatever is already being offered,” Elliott said. “The best thing we can do is support the efforts that are already being done.”
He said despite the COVID-19 shutdown, he’s gotten calls from people interested in starting businesses. Elliott said all the downtime has provided people with the opportunities to see what they could offer the region and some have discovered potential niche businesses.
All the inquiries are in the early stages of development but are good fits if they come to fruition, he said. Helping the individuals develop their business plans has been a “nice change” to all the bad news produced by the COVID-19 restrictions.
“People are sitting home and it gives them time to think about what options could be provided and they get an ‘a ha’ moment,” Elliott said, “and decide ‘I can’t wait for someone to come in to fill that option when I can do it.’ They are seeing a need and deciding they can fill it.”
Elliott said he believes there is going to be new economic activity in the region sooner rather than later. He said the purchase of the mill site by East Millinocket will bring new opportunities as the work that Our Katahdin continues to do at the Millinocket mill site. The renovations on the OK building on Penobscot Avenue are going well and that space will become incubator space for local small businesses.
“There will be opportunities,” Elliott said.
Elliott has been involved in Mobilize Katahdin meetings and said he’s impressed with the coalition of organizations that have come together to help the region. He said it’s a great model for economic growth “when we’re all rowing in the same direction for what’s good for the towns.”
Elliott said he’s able to provide Katahdin region businesses, those who are interested in starting businesses and non- profit organizations with state and federal resources/programs as well as grant opportunities and fiscal sponsors. He can help navigate paperwork and guidelines to increase the chances a business and organization will get the help they are seeking.
“You need to understand how to monetize your skill and build your business out,” Elliot said.
He said he also likes to be involved with community initiatives and connect people to resources or other people who can help.
If a business doesn’t feel it has a need for Elliot’s services he encouraged them to still call as he can be a “sounding board” for ideas and frustrations.
“There have been a lot f businesses out there that just call to say how hard it’s been and we just talk,” he said.
Individuals can contact Elliott, who has an office at the Katahdin Higher Education Center in East Millinocket, at 746-9608 ext 229 or by his cell phone 723-1862, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.