Ian Pratt, of Pratt Dealerships, is pictured with Sunrise County Economic Council’s Denise Cilley and Charles Rudelitch. Pratt recently pledged a $10,000 donation to the construction of Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, which has now received 75 percent of necessary funding. (Photo by Ethan Pratt)

Center for Entrepreneurship Nears 75 Percent of $1.05 Million Goal


Jayna Smith
[email protected]

Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship is one step closer to its new building, thanks to a recent donation by Pratt Family Dealerships and other local businesses.  
The center, a program of Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC), will provide a physical space for coworking and collaboration, conference rooms, networking events, and training programs, all in an effort to create jobs and prosperity.
“This is important for our community,” Pratt said.  “This is an opportunity to help people who have great ideas, but might not have a business background or know how to bring their idea to the market...having that formalized training to go along with those fantastic ideas.”  
Pratt explained that many people who work for themselves may not consider themselves entrepreneurs, and the business center, he believes, will be an important resource to many.  
“We already have entrepreneurial people in the area.  They don’t see themselves as entrepreneurs,” he explained, using clammers and fishermen, wreath makers, and others as examples.  “Every one of those jobs, by and large, they’re actually working for themselves, so teaching them how to have more value added to that versus making wreaths for somebody else, for example...maybe they make their own wreath business.”  
According to SCEC’s Entrepreneurship Program Director Denise Cilley, final design plans for the building are underway.  “Our goals are to complete demolition and foundation preservation before winter, picking up with full construction during quarter two of next year and continuing until the center is constructed, finished, and outfitted with furniture and equipment,” she said.  The construction process, she said, will likely take eight to ten months.
The total cost for the Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship will exceed just over $1 million.  That cost includes design, permitting, construction, as well as furniture, equipment, amenities, and the like.  
In 2018, Machias Savings Bank gifted the 19 Main Street, Machias location to SCEC, along with $200,000 to kick start the fundraising campaign for the new entrepreneurship center.  Now, after donations from other businesses, banks, and foundations, and significant investments from SCEC and the Northern Border Regional Commission, the building project has reached over 75 percent of the funds necessary.
“I am so inspired by the people and businesses of Washington County, such as Ian and the Pratt Dealerships team, who share the vision and have a desire to roll up their sleeves and volunteer their time and contribute their hard-earned dollars to ignite it. This is a great example of how our region's communities pull together to make things happen and help each other in big ways,” Cilley said.  
SCEC continues to accept both multi-year pledges and donations to advance the center.  Additional information, as well as the building layout and space designs, a regularly-updated list of donors, and a complete list of program offerings, partners and funders, can be viewed at machiasvalleycenter.org.


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