Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Business opportunities, blogging, and writer's lament

With a flurry of activity generated by summer youth programs, Industry Information Tuesdays, booking employers for our newest WorkReady program, taking place at the Somerset County Jail, and an enhanced New Mainers project in Lewiston/Portland funded by a local earmark, there hasn’t been enough free time to post as regularly as I would like.

The key to a vibrant blog is regular posting. Since I maintain two other personal blogs, as well as continuing to work on a series of essays that I hope will be book #3 for me, I sometimes don’t have the energy to put up a blog post at the end of the day that is more than a few lines. I apologize for the drop off here at Working in Maine. A guest post here and there would be nice, as I’m always looking for solid workforce-related content.

A couple of things worth noting, however.

As part of our ongoing efforts here in Lewiston to help job seekers in a tough economy find work, and better, upgrade their skills so they are marketable now, and in the future, we’ve continued our series of Industry Information Tuesdays.

Yesterday, we focused on business services, as well as retail. The thinking was that entrepreneurship and small business are avenues worth exploring for some. Additionally, as much as retail gets beaten up, it does provide a large portion of Maine’s jobs, and there are some clear career pathways within that sector.

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Dante M. Vespignani, from The Entrepreneur's Source. Vespignani is an advocate for franchise opportunities, and he provides a great service to anyone considering franchising as a way to get into their own business.

According to a follow-up email that I received from Vespignani, a report by FRANdata for the IFA Educational Foundation indicates that the franchising industry's ability to create jobs and produce economic growth is evident.

According to Matthew Shay, IFA president and CEO, the report shows that for every $1 million of lending obtained by franchise small businesses, 34 jobs are created and $3.6 million in annual economic output is realized. Like most other sectors however, “the current credit crunch is constraining this potential growth and slowing economic recovery," said Shay.

Speaking of the credit crunch and tough economy, former Freaky Bean owner, John Stratton, a victim of bankruptcy, which forced him to shutter the former chain, which had locations in Westbrook, Scarborough, and had also purchased two competitor locations in Yarmouth and Falmouth, before going belly up, has landed on his feet and is back in the coffee business.

According to Mainebiz, Stratton has resurfaced and is the general manager of Maddabout Coffee, a new company that for now sells coffee wholesale.

The new company will be called Second Crack LLC, and was registered with Maine's Secretary of State's office on March 26. Stratton says he is not the owner, only the general manager. The company is bankrolled and owned by some former owners of Freaky Bean who wish to remain anonymous, though some are family members, Stratton told Mainebiz.

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