Grant Helps COA Incubator



BAR HARBOR — A recent grant from the United States Department of Agriculture solidifies College of the Atlantic’s Sustainable Venture Incubator, which offers COA students the tools and mentoring needed to launch from four to six enterprises each year.

 

Many of these enterprises – both for and nonprofit – are geared to improve the lives of people in the Mount Desert Island (MDI) region.

The USDA grant of $73,501 comes through its Rural Development program. The funds will be used to help establish the on-campus business incubator by supporting student-founded new businesses, providing training in entrepreneurship and sustainable business practices to existing businesses, and by conducting seminars and conferences.

The Sustainable Venture Incubator is the only program of its kind in the country. This year, of the six student entrepreneurial projects, three have direct links to the local community. Jordan Motzkin’s Big Box Farms uses new technology to raise greens in under-utilized spaces, minimizing distribution costs and emissions. It has already begun negotiations to provide year-round fresh, local food in the MDI area. Also considering food sustainability is Joslyn Richardson who is working on Share the Harvest, a program of the college’s organic Beech Hill Farm, allowing families relying on food assistance programs to enjoy local, organic vegetables. Finally, Noah Hodgetts’ MDI 2030 links local planning efforts of the four communities on Mount Desert Island, where COA is located, and Acadia National Park, so they can plan as one for a sustainable future.

Already, the college’s Sustainable Business Program has made strong connections to MDI. Over the winter a class in Sustainable Strategies worked with three businesses from Southwest Harbor – Hutchins Cottages of Acadia, MDI Springwater, and Seawall Motel – to enhance the sustainability of their enterprises. Building on this relationship, the grant funds up to eight spots in entrepreneurship classes at COA for local residents.

“This funding will help encourage our next generation of entrepreneurs to pursue socially and environmentally responsible business practices,” said U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in a statement. “We are pleased that USDA Rural Development recognizes the importance of supporting sustainable economic development opportunities in Maine’s rural communities.”

For more education news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

 

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