April 08, 2020

Women, Work & Community offers free business startup help

Two years ago, Gail Baillargeon of Bangor turned an interest and 17 years of experience into her own company.

“It’s a multispecialty research clinic,” she said of Acadia Clinical Research, located at 304 Hancock St. in Bangor. “I can do a broad spectrum of research as long as I have the physicians that are qualified in that area.”

Shortly after opening, Baillargeon saw a flier posted in the private physician’s office where she had worked for two years. The flier described a class relevant to starting a new business, prompting Baillargeon to become more informed about how to proceed with her fledging company.

“New Ventures” is a 12-week program offered through Women, Work & Community. The focus is the development of a business plan for those who wish to start a business. And, while programs offered through Women, Work & Community are geared for women, men are welcome to attend, and do.

“It’s for anybody who’s interested,” said Jane Searles, regional manager for WWC’s north-central Down East region. New Ventures is currently being held in Newport, with 11 women and one man attending. The class will be offered in the Bangor area in 2007.

Classes are free, and individual services also may be provided. Searles, who has been with the organization for nearly 21 years, said she can guide people through writing a business plan and assign them homework even if they are not in a class. And she can see them once a week or once a month, depending on their preference.

“I leave it up to the individuals,” she said.

Women, Work & Community is funded by state and federal funds, endowment funds and grants. The organization offers opportunities for learning in four areas of development – work force, micro-enterprise, assets and leadership.

Classes offered under microenterprise services are:

. Stop Winging It! Start Planning It! – A two-hour introductory workshop that offers practical ideas for how to turn ideas into a business.

. The Basics of Starting a Business – A nine-hour workshop to help people with a business or business idea learn the basics of a business plan, marketing and the beginning financials. During the three-hour sessions, participants learn how to look at the feasibility of their ideas and begin to write parts of their business plan.

. New Ventures – A 12-week course which covers, in depth, topics such as customers, competition, marketing strategies, financial record keeping, taxes, legal aspects, financing the business and more. At class end participants will have written a business plan and have a clear idea of how to go forward.

. Business Resource Center – The agency’s newly equipped, state-of-the-art center, available to entrepreneurs to work on their marketing materials, business plan or financials. Located at the WWC office at 216 Texas Ave., the center has two computer work stations, printers, scanner and a digital camera. It is available to the public by appointment. Call 262-7843.

. Individual Assistance – Meeting individually with the micro-enterprise coordinator when time allows. She is happy to answer questions and help those interested to understand the next steps they need to take.

Baillargeon attended the New Ventures program in February 2005 – a mere two months after starting her business.

“It’s a very good program for anyone thinking about starting their own business,” she said. She found speakers, including lawyers, accountants, bankers and one from the Small Business Development Center, to be helpful.

In putting together her business plan, Baillargeon learned the importance of writing a plan and then revisiting it.

“At least it keeps you honest as to what your mission is,” she said.

Baillargeon, 48, has had many years of health care experience in different facilities and capacities – the last 19 years involving research.

“I’m very passionate about research,” she said. Baillargeon is equally enthusiastic about the possibilities her company, staffed by herself and three physicians, has to offer.

“It’s an opportunity to bring cutting-edge therapies to the Bangor area,” she said. Studies in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blood pressure and Type II diabetes are lined up for this fall.

For information on Women, Work and Community and its classes, call Jane Searles at 262-7843 or Diana Campbell at 262-7840. For information on Acadia Clinical Research, call Gail Baillargeon at 941-9965.

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