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L-A to vote for winner of $100,000 entrepreneurial contest

After months of encouraging young entrepreneurs to submit their best business idea, the Launch L-A contest team is pleased to announce that its judges have winnowed the entries down to two finalists.

The start of the online voting process coincides with National Entrepreneurial Week.

Starting immediately, the public will be able to vote for which idea they think is the best in terms of viability and what business they’d like to see in Lewiston-Auburn. The two finalists are Lifestyles Massage–Bodywork for the Working Body, submitted by Chelsea Elizabeth Fournier, and The Havener Hot Plate ski binding plate, submitted by Donald Havener.

Launch L-A is a contest offering nearly $100,000 in cash and in-kind services to the winning business idea submitted by a young entrepreneur with roots in Lewiston-Auburn. The contest has received national attention since it began accepting submissions last September. Contestants were asked to complete a detailed application and business plan and had to be willing to relocate to the Twin Cities if selected as the winner.

Organized by the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, in conjunction with the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, the contest was funded completely by local businesses and organizations, including start-up cash from Bangor Savings Bank, Northeast Bank and Auburn Savings Bank.

Lifestyles Massage is an independently operated massage therapy center focused on the sustainability of health, the local economy and the environment. Lifestyles Massage will provide consistent and excellent care in an affordable and accessible way. Community support will be at the core of the company’s values, as it will regularly offer part of the proceeds to local non-profit organizations, and focus on educational outreach to community members.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of skiers are seriously injured in slope-side accidents, some of them life altering and even fatal. Despite great advances in equipment technology, few have been made toward safety. As a senior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Donald Havener developed a technology to increase safety in the ski binding system. This product will solve two major sources of alpine skiing injuries: anterior cruciate ligament ruptures in the knees and inadvertent release.

A panel of seven judges reviewed the submissions and selected the finalists after rating criteria including creativity, idea viability, connection to the community, strength of application and community need.

Anyone can vote for their favorite idea at www.launchlamaine.com. However, the voting process will weigh local voters more heavily than non-local voters: using zip code identification, each Androscoggin/Franklin/Oxford County voter will be counted as one vote, whereby non-residents will get only half a vote.

Voting will be open until March 11. Only one vote per e-mail address is allowed.

On Wednesday, March 2, finalists will be invited to the community to get a tour of the Lewiston-Auburn area, meet with city officials and be available for interviews with the media. A final winner will be announced in late March.

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