SCORE: Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Maine
The first time I heard about SCORE’s work in Maine I was as a participant in Focus ME, a women’s entrepreneurship cohort they co-created with The Women’s Business Center at CEI. A few years later, I reconnected with Portland Chapter Chair Nancy Strojny at a Focus ME alumni event. We chatted briefly about an idea I was working on to integrate a productized model into my service offerings, and she encouraged me to set up an appointment to meet with her as a SCORE mentor. I was blown away when I walked into their office, from the education space where they host workshops for entrepreneurs to the photos of SCORE mentees running hugely respected businesses in Portland and beyond. How had I not realized this resource existed?
Nancy’s guidance and encouragement were invaluable. It was just the support and clarity of thinking I needed to breathe new life into my work, and having someone hold me accountable sure didn’t hurt either. So often in my work I’m focused on supporting entrepreneurs and innovators, I forget that I need that same network of support and entrepreneurial energy. No ember can survive long without the fire, and the more time I spend living and working in Maine, the more I am encouraged to find a thriving community of entrepreneurship here.
This spring, I had the opportunity to work with the SCORE team to revamp their Maine 2017 Impact Metrics. I joined forces with graphic designer India Menninghaus, updating a word document to one cohesive, 2-page PDF that combined infographics, typography and re-framed FAQs to tell SCORE’s story of impact in Maine at a glance. And yet again, I found myself blown away by the scope and impact of their work. In 2017, 356 new businesses were started with SCORE’s help. That’s almost 1 per day!
Then in June they held their annual SCORE Success Awards luncheon, sponsored by Maine Technology Institute. Tyler Frank anchored the event with a keynote address sharing his journey as the founder of Garbage to Garden, but also his belief in the power of entrepreneurship to drive economic and social change. Afterward, each honoree shared their story and gratitude for SCORE with such heartfelt emotion, humor and kindness. I left with an overwhelming feeling that entrepreneurship is a force to be reckoned with in Maine and grateful to be a part of it. I also left with a remembrance that at the heart of all that brings richness and beauty to our communities is simply people: taking risks, following their passions, supporting each other, falling down and getting back up over and over again.