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Launch L-A needs more applications from young entrepreneurs

Launch L-A, a contest that will award nearly $100,000 in cash and services to the winner of a business plan with Lewiston-Auburn roots, will be extended until January 1, 2011.

“We’ve received some very exciting business proposals from as far away as Nevada and Massachusetts from young entrepreneurs who want to move back to the Lewiston-Auburn area and launch their dream business,” said Paul Badeau, marketing director for the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council.

“Entries include manufacturing proposals, online innovations and service industry ideas, which we are very excited to share with the community for the voting process early next year,” said Badeau. “At the same time, contest participants told us that the entries required a lot of time and work. So we hope this extension provides even more entrepreneurs the opportunity to enter the contest. In addition, contestants who have already entered will be given the chance to add to their entry if they want.”

The contest is sponsored by two local business organizations, the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council and the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. LAEGC and The Chamber teamed up to send a message loud and clear: the Cities of Lewiston and Auburn welcome young, creative entrepreneurs—particularly those who have roots in the community but who have moved away.

To back up that sentiment, a number of local companies have stepped forward to contribute nearly $100,000 in cash and in-kind services to the most promising start-up company willing to come back home and set up business.

The program, called “Launch L-A!”, invites young entrepreneurs to submit a proposal to start a business in L-A. Entries will be screened by a committee of business and banking professionals who will judge the ideas on a number of criteria, including creativity, viability and community need.

Adding a page from the “American Idol” script, finalists will be voted upon electronically by community members of Lewiston and Auburn in early 2011.

The winning entrepreneur will receive an equity infusion of about $12,000 seed money, along with a number of in-kind services for a year, including business consulting, accounting services, legal fees, advertising agency services, rent, and more—all provided by Chamber members. Runners-up may also receive in-kind services.

Three local Maine banks, Bangor Savings Bank, Northeast Bank and Auburn Savings Bank, have already committed $11,500 to seeding the prize package. In addition, dozens of local businesses are offering in-kind services including:

Rinck Advertising: Branding, Creative and Public Relations Package: $15,000.

Curry Printing: Printing Package: $1,200.

Next Level Business Coaching: Business Consulting: $3,600.

LAEGC: Start-up office space, conference room space & receptionist: $4,000.

Robustelli, Soucy & Hussey, PA: Accounting services :  $10,000.

Brann & Isaacson: Legal fees for a year:  $2,500.

Core Zero Creative: Search Engine Optimization, web and social media marketing strategy: $1,500.

Oxford Networks: Internet/Phone lines: $1,900.

WGME-13: Advertising package, including cost of production: $2,000.

Leighton Images: Video Production — $4,500.

Mainely Portrait Photography: Photo session: $500.

Strategic Talent Management: Personality Aptitude Testing:  $2,500.

Chamber of Commerce: Membership, Advertising, and Support Package: $500.

RE-Group! Business Solutions: Risk Mitigation and Business Infrastructure: $1,000.

Sun Journal: One year’s worth of advertising and consulting: $5,000.

Marriott Residence Inn: One-week stay: $1,000.

The competition is open to entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 to 30 who have roots in Androscoggin County but have not lived there in at least nine months. Applicants will be encouraged to support their idea using digital applications, such as video presentations, web sites, podcasts and digital photos.

“Having previewed the entries, I think the communities of Lewiston and Auburn are going to be really excited when they hear about the prospective business that will launch right here in 2011,” said Laura Davis, a partner at Rinck Advertising and a member of the judging committee. “We hope the contest extension in combination with an incredible array of cash and valuable prizes provides an incentive for additional entrepreneurs to finish their entries and submit them.”

T.H. Creations, a Lewiston-based web site development company, created a web site to promote the contest. Entrepreneurs can enter the contest with their business idea right online at: http://www.launchlamaine.com. Contestants and interested parties can also follow the contest on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LaunchLAMaine or Twitter at https://twitter.com/LaunchLAMaine.

Companies interested in finding out more about the contest and how they can be a part of it should contact the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council at 784-0161 or the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce at 783-2249.

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