Annual “At Work” awards bestowed virtually
Although FAME did not host its annual Showcase Maine event in person this year, it bestowed the annual “At Work for Maine” awards virtually. FAME presented the awards to business, lending, and higher education partners in order to recognize their meaningful contributions to the state. Video profiles of each of the honorees are posted on FAME’s website, as are recorded remarks by Governor Janet T. Mills, who was slated to give the keynote address had an in-person event occurred.
“Although we were unable to gather in person this year, FAME wishes to thank and recognize so many of our partners for their contributions to Maine’s economic and educational well-being,” said Carlos Mello, FAME’s Acting Chief Executive Officer. “We are pleased to honor these select partners who help to make Maine’s economic and educational futures brighter, especially during these challenging times.”
In her recorded message, Governor Mills stated: “Organizations like FAME, which are able to make education more affordable, able to make good-paying jobs available, and able to support local businesses, are more important now than ever before.” The Governor congratulated the various award winners in addition to FAME: “On behalf of all Maine people I want to thank the staff and board of directors of FAME . . . for all your hard work.”
This year’s awards recipients include:
• Business at Work for Maine Award: Arctaris Impact Investors, LLC: In recognition of their efforts at resuming operations at Saddleback Mountain and benefitting area businesses and the local economy, FAME is recognizing Arctaris Impact Investors, LLC (Arctaris). Saddleback Mountain reopened in December 2020 thanks in large part to Arctaris, an impact investment firm, and multiple state and local financing agencies, including FAME. The mountain enjoyed a successful first year of resumed operations and has made significant improvements to the ski lifts and the lodge. The resort also has extended area hiking trails and added new mountain bike terrain trails, as well.
• Education at Work for Maine Award: Awarded jointly to Rosa Redonnett, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success and Credential Attainment, University of Maine System and Janet Sortor, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Maine Community College System: Chosen in recognition of their shared vision and commitment to working collaboratively to support Maine students transforming their lives through education, Rosa and Janet have been motivated by a deep belief in the power of education to transform lives. The pair has partnered for decades working tirelessly to reduce barriers to higher education and help countless students succeed. Their shared vision and their commitment to working collaboratively in the best interests of students has led to far more seamless academic pathways between Maine’s community colleges and universities, among many other accomplishments.
• Lender at Work for Maine Award ($1.5 billion or more in assets): Farm Credit East: In recognition of their outstanding commitment to providing credit and other services to Maine’s agricultural and related industries, FAME is recognizing Farm Credit East as its top lending partner of 2021 in the category of lenders with $1.5 billion or more in assets. Over the past fiscal year, Farm Credit East partnered with FAME on thirty-eight loans totaling approximately $9.2 million. This in turn helped to create and retain 131 Maine jobs.
• Lender at Work for Maine Award (less than $1.5 billion in assets): Skowhegan Savings: FAME is honoring Skowhegan Savings in recognition of their outstanding commitment to making Maine’s communities better places in which to live and work. They were the top lending partner of FAME’s in the category of lenders with less than $1.5 billion in assets. Over the past year, Skowhegan Savings partnered with FAME on thirteen loans totaling approximately $3.9 million. This in turn helped to create and retain seventy-seven Maine jobs. Examples of businesses FAME assisted in partnership with Skowhegan Savings include: Bell Holdings; FHF Realty; MooMoo’s Playcare Center; Northern Lights Maine; and Ranger Contracting.
• Lender at Work for Maine Award (most increased partnership): Bath Savings: In recognition of their increased partnership with FAME and commitment to Maine people and businesses through innovative financial solutions and community engagement, FAME is pleased to recognize Bath Savings this year. Over the past year, Bath Savings partnered with FAME on four loans totaling approximately $2.5 million. This in turn helped to create and retain 128 Maine jobs. Examples of businesses assisted in partnership with Bath Savings: Oxbow Brewing Co; Ray Labbe & Sons Contractors; and Windham Pie.
• Dirigo Lifetime Achievement Award #1: John Burns, longtime Managing Director, Maine Venture Fund: In recognition of his many years of dedicated service at Maine Venture Fund supporting dynamic Maine businesses that have the potential for significant growth and impact, John is honored with a Dirigo Lifetime Achievement Award. John has led Maine Venture Fund for twenty years, growing it from a small, unknown quasi-governmental organization mandated with investing in early-stage Maine companies to a cornerstone of the state’s innovation ecosystem. To date, Maine Venture Fund has invested in approximately eighty-one companies and experienced several successful exits.
• Dirigo Lifetime Achievement Award #2: Steve Levesque, Executive Director, Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA): In recognition of his many years of dedicated service to successful economic development in Maine, both at the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) and as former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, FAME is pleased to honor Steve with a Dirigo Lifetime Achievement Award. Steve has been MRRA’s only Executive Director since its formation in 2008. MRRA has met or exceeded all of its original goals and objectives and is nationally recognized for being one of the most successful base re-use initiatives. Steve’s professional career has spanned over forty-one years in both the private and public sectors in the areas of economic and community development, land use planning, and environmental services. FAME has helped to finance some of the companies located at Brunswick Landing, including SaviLinx, Molynlycke, and Blue Dog Daycare. FAME also has supported the students at the campuses of University of Maine System and Maine Community College System located there.