Democratic Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic will meet with local business owners and staff to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing small businesses in Maine.

“The passion and hard work of our small business owners and entrepreneurs are what make our communities strong and vital. I am committed to doing all I can to help them succeed – when they thrive, we all benefit,” said Senator Vitelli.

Maine’s economy is driven by and depends on small businesses. Nearly 90 percent of Maine companies employ fewer than 20 people. With this in mind, the 126th Legislature made economic growth a top priority and developed an agenda to help small businesses sustain good-paying jobs for Maine people.

Senator Vitelli served on the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, a committee formed by the Democratic Legislature to focus on meeting the needs of businesses and workers for successful growth. The Workforce Committee heard from leaders in the business and research and development communities to develop a $50 million bond package to improve Maine’s economic outlook. The focus of the bonds, which will be on the ballot in November, is to provide funding that small businesses and institutions will use specifically for business growth efforts.

The 126th Legislature also worked to make it easier for small businesses to attract private investment. Senator Vitelli supported a law that provides funding for the Seed Capital program, which provides tax credits to private investors who invest in eligible Maine businesses.

Every $1 spent yields $8 of investment; in 2012, $4.67 million was invested in a dozen Maine companies and since the creation of the program 128 Maine companies have received capital. She also supported a new law that makes it easier for entrepreneurs and startups to raise money through crowd-investing. This initiative costs the state no money; it simply modified regulations to make it easier for Mainers to invest in new local businesses.

Given our continuing challenges, Democratic Senators have been meeting with as many business owners and their employees as they can before the next legislative session starts in January. Any new legislation that can help Maine’s economy start to recover the jobs lost during the recession will need to be submitted before the deadline that will be set by the Legislative Council in November. Democratic Legislators are working to be able to move quickly on such proposals at the beginning of the year.

“I look forward to hearing ideas from a variety of businesses,” said Senator Vitelli.

Senator Vitelli will visit small businesses on Monday, October 6 starting with Now You’re Cooking in Bath at 10:00 a.m.

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