The U.S. Small Business Administration on Tuesday announced it would provide $150,000 in grants to help support entrepreneurship in Maine.

The funds come in the form of three grants. The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and the Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine, known as E2Tech, will each receive $50,000 to help support their efforts, while the SBA will also provide $50,000 to the city of Rockland to help it develop online tools to streamline the permitting process for entrepreneurs starting businesses.

MCED and E2Tech are among 80 organizations nationwide, out of a field of 400 applicants, to win grants through the 2015 SBA Growth Accelerator Fund competition, designed to fund operating budgets for startup and innovation accelerators in parts of the country where there is less access to conventional sources of capital.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy, and accelerating the growth of these small firms is essential to driving innovation and creating good-paying new jobs,” said Seth Goodall, SBA’s regional administrator for New England, in a statement. “We must recognize those that work so hard and are instrumental in facilitating the success and growth of our entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

In the case of MCED, the award will be used to fund the operating budget of Top Gun, the organization’s startup accelerator program that has graduated more than 100 entrepreneurs during its five-year existence.

“Our mission is to build world-class Maine companies,” said Don Gooding, MCED’s executive director. “This award recognizes the key role that the Top Gun program plays in supporting a thriving, active entrepreneurial infrastructure in Maine. We are thrilled and honored to receive it and look forward to putting it into use to build entrepreneurship in Maine.”

The award is significant for MCED, as much of its previous budget for Top Gun came from Blackstone Accelerates Growth, the three-year, $3 million initiative of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to grow entrepreneurship in Maine, which is winding down this year.

E2Tech, which seeks to promote and support entrepreneurs working in the areas of energy and environmental technology, will use the $50,000 grant to support several key programs, including the development of a major event this fall on the state of Maine’s energy, environmental and cleantech sectors, and the study of the ripple effect of clean-energy development in expanding Maine’s manufacturing supply chains, according to a news release.

“This sector is the fastest growing technology sector in Maine and is comprised of many young firms that are optimistic about commercializing their products and services and growing their businesses,” said Jeff Marks, E2Tech’s executive director. “This grant will accelerate our outreach, grow our network, and overcome startups’ access challenges to financial, intellectual and technical support and investment.”

The SBA selected Rockland to receive one of only 25 grants as part of its Startup in a Day initiative, which seeks to encourage municipalities to make it easier for entrepreneurs to navigate the permitting and business-licensing process for new small businesses. It is the only municipality in Maine to receive the award.

“This award recognizes Rockland’s focus on streamlining their licensing and permitting process through online, modern technology so entrepreneurs can focus on their business, rather than the red tape,” Goodall said.


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