February 2021 Edition
Sponsored by People's United Bank
5 Qs with David Stone
CEO and Founder, Forager
What is the premise of Forager and how does it aim to serve communities and customers?
Forager is a social mission-based venture with a goal of making locally sourced food more widely available to all. Our strategy to achieve this goal is to reduce the cost and complexity for grocers, wholesalers, institutions, and others in sourcing local food from small farms and artisanal suppliers by digitizing an analog and cumbersome procurement process. We also work to connect them with new suppliers so they can expand their local food offerings.
How has your experience with CashStar informed your development of Forager?
I created CashStar in 2007 just as the great recession began to unfold. CashStar catalyzed the shift from plastic to digital gift cards and issued $2 billion in digital gift cards just prior to selling for $178MM in 2017. We powered the digital gift card sites of more than 350 of the world’s greatest brands (e.g., Starbucks, BestBuy, The Home Depot, Gap, Lululemon, Dunkin Donuts).

In my 5+ years creating and building CashStar, I learned so very much. We could spend a whole lifetime on what I learned. Everything from who to hire, how to work with investors, how to open customer doors, motivate teams, etc.
What resources, partners, and companies have been helpful to Forager as it has continued to grow? 
The most helpful folks have been our advisors and a few of our investors. One in particular was a partner at a well-respected retail consultancy and made a few particularly good introductions for us. He is now CEO of a multi-brand grocer and we are in conversations with one of them in Portland OR. Some of our investors have made intro’s to other investors who have invested in Forager and its mission.
What challenges do locally-sourced food markets currently face?
The local food supply chain is the most complicated I’ve ever encountered, particularly produce. Grocers complain that small farms are unreliable, can’t meet their demands, quality is inconsistent, and prices are too high, among other things. Further, since it requires so much labor and work, many just won’t do it. Or if they do, it’s a halfhearted commitment. Of course, there are grocers who are really committed to our local food system too and we have some of them as clients. These too have challenges as well, as many are comfortable doing it the way they always have (e.g., phone calls, paper and pen, fax etc.)

We also need to train and help farms be more “retail” ready when it comes to Insurance, tax returns on the administrative side – product availability management and communications rigor on the commerce side and logistics re-order taking, delivery, payments, etc. For older farms in particular, tech training is must.
What is the future of local food markets for Mainers?
Maine is already a leader in local food, ranking #2 on the locavore index – nearly 7% of all our produce here in Maine is sourced locally, compared to about 3.5% nationwide.
COVID-19 has altered the landscape quite a bit – and it’s unclear if it’s here to stay or temporary because many grocers limited their product offering, reducing SKU’s during COVID as well. With the difficulty in e-commerce online ordering systems requiring conventional products to work well, consumers began purchasing directly from farms in record numbers. We saw an increase of nearly 1,000 % in the early days of the pandemic.
Maine has been a leader in local long before such terms as farm to table became a cliché. Pioneers include individuals like Sam Hayward from Fore Street in Portland, and Elliot Coleman in Blue Hill.
In your Tech Talk at Central Maine Tech Night this month, you will be speaking about how Forager was created. What are your plans for growth within the next few years? 
Forager has many goals in the near and distant future. We hope to sign new grocers and other wholesale/retail clients and institutions, build our supplier networks, and capture more key information like insurance, certifications, years in business, etc. Improving our product significantly and raising more capital will allow us to continue to build strong strategic partnerships with entities that work with farms and retailers. 
February Tech Night:
Forager: Changing the Way we Source our Food
February 11 | 12:00 p.m. | Click here for Zoom link

Listen in to hear from one of Maine's most successful entrepreneurs, David D. Stone, Co-founder CashStar, about how Forager is on a mission to make local food accessible by leveraging digital technology to simplify local food procurement and expand access to fresh, nutritious food for all.
About Forager: Forager is building the largest local food network by simplifying the local food sourcing process - from procurement to payment.
Virtual Central Maine Tech Night (CMTN) Recordings
By moving to the virtual Zoom platform to comply with social distancing recommendations, Central Maine Tech Night (CMTN) has made its presentations available for viewing anytime. You can watch recordings of past CMTNs on the

Healthcare Staffing Challenges in the Time of COVID-19
Article by Claudia Gourdon, SVP Healthcare Financial Services, People's United Bank
As hospitals and post-acute inpatient facilities in some parts of the nation begin to come out of the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and start shifting toward a “new normal,” there are important lessons learned that can be carried forward. Healthcare-facility operators should recognize that their employees are part of an overburdened workforce that has been under immense stress — and they can act accordingly to promote and preserve staff well-being.

To read more about the Healthcare employers who respond by designing and implementing systems, tools, processes, and workplace environments that support their staff can better help them meet the ongoing challenges posed by the outbreak and its aftermath, click here.

For more important tips to help maintain operational continuity during the COVID-19 crisis, click here.
Business Investment
Top Stories of January 2021

The 50-year-old, two-story steel frame building at 20 Lithgow St. was most recently home to Allsco Building Products, which closed two years ago. On the bank of the Kennebec River and close to U.S. Route 201, the building has three-phase power to accommodate higher loads, half a dozen loading docks, expansive storage space, office space and a front lobby for visitors and on-site retail.

The partnership in Maine is informed by Boston Fed research that examined smaller cities across the country that had not fared well over the past half-century. Finding that a subset of these communities was able to turn their economies around for the better, Boston Fed economists asked, ‘What did it take for those places to change course?’ They found that success was dependent on how well leaders collaborated across the business, public, and nonprofit sectors to pursue a common, long-term vision for the community.

“Despite unprecedented difficulties faced by companies and property owners during the past year, local businesses have maintained an admirable commitment to the community, including moving forward on a focused range of restoration projects to launching e-commerce platforms that drive online sales,” Flewelling said in a prepared statement. “In turn, FIMAP projects are creating a strong foundation from which we can assist the local economy as we continue to invite growth and development.”

In addition to his full-time position with Waterville that is a 24 hours on, 48 hours off shift, Johnston holds the rank of lieutenant at Oakland and does per diem shifts with Clinton. “It’s a great asset and advantage to have someone that does training as a business and is that dedicated to the fire service,” Oakland Fire Chief David Coughlin said. “Him being a member of our department, it does turn into being an asset for us to pull from.”

The Town Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to sell a town-owned property on the Heywood Road for $2 million to Orion Ropeworks during a special council meeting held virtually. The building houses Johnny's Selected Seeds on one side and Orion Ropeworks on the other. Now both businesses will own their portions of the building.

In addition to the investment from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, KVCOG has partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration to launch the Resiliency Series, aimed at promoting different aspects of resiliency throughout central Maine. The program is also funded by the federal Economic Development Administration.

The three-story building at 57 Main St. that Mitchell bought in 2019 will house Elm City Nutrition on the ground floor in the former jewelry store space on or near April 1. The upper two floors feature a high-end apartment on each floor. The nutrition shop, owned by Anna Curtis, will offer healthful smoothies, teas and related offerings.

Williams brought the idea of establishing a community land trust to Waterville several years ago. She and others established the land trust in 2014, and started their work in the South End. The group seeks to help stabilize neighborhoods by acquiring homes, restoring or rehabilitating them and then offering them for sale to eligible people with low to moderate incomes. The land trust has done so with two homes so far and accepts donated homes, renovates them as needed and sells them to people who are eligible.

DuraMag, launched as F3 Manufacturing in 2016, was acquired last fall by Charlotte, Mich.-based Shyft Group (Nasdaq: SHYF), a specialty vehicle manufacturer. It was rebranded after the acquisition. The company’s operations include aluminum manufacturing, finishing, assembly and installation of DuraMag truck and van bodies, as well as Magnum-branded truck cab protection racks.

This February's Central Maine Top Gun program will consist of seven companies ranging from a software company to a high-end pizza dough manufacturing company. The entrepreneurs selected for participation in the program completed a rigorous application process that included pitching their business and one-on-one interviews with program staff and volunteer business leaders.

The Lockwood Hotel completion by Colby College is just one of many projects expected to occur this year in downtown Waterville, including the completion and opening of the Arts Collaborative across Main Street from the hotel. Colby College officials hope to open the Front & Main restaurant inside the Lockwood Hotel on Main Street downtown in late spring and the hotel itself, in late summer, if all goes according to plan and it is safe to do so.

The Fairfield Economic and Community Development Committee has launched a survey asking the community to weigh in on possible economic development opportunities that leverage the town's geographic assets, the river and its islands. The committee said it hopes the survey will help identify new potential development projects, particularly related to waterfront accessibility.

Colby College, known for its economics and environmental science programs, now wants to become a leader in artificial intelligence education. The small Maine college this week announced plans to launch the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which will teach students to incorporate the new technology into their liberal arts education. In the summer, the new institute will also train faculty from other colleges on machine learning.
Contact: Don Plourde
207-660-4000 dplourde@cbplourde.com
Central Maine Real Estate Spotlight
Featured Commercial Property:
Building Size: 6,400 sq.ft.
Lease Rate: $12 PSF (Annual)
Property Features:
  • Great visibility
  • Off-street paved parking
  • Spacious interior

  • Retail or office space
  • Previously Oakland Pharmacy
  • Proximity to Kennedy Memorial Drive
Workforce Investment
Workforce Training & Professional Development: 
Spring professional development classes are open for registration
Workforce training has not stopped at Kennebec Valley Community College.

Workforce Training & Professional Development at Kennebec Valley Community College provides non-credit and customized training programs to individuals and businesses throughout Kennebec, Somerset, and Knox counties. Customized training programs for your incumbent or new hire workforce may qualify for a Maine Quality Center grant to reduce the cost of training.

KVCC’s professional development training scheduled currently delivers training for welding, heat pump installation, high pressure boiler, heavy equipment operator, emergency medical technician (EMT), certified nursing assistant (CNA), phlebotomy and more.

KVCC’s Institute of Workforce Training also continues to deliver customized training programs. Some of those trainings include leadership, human resource management, MS Excel, lab skills, conflict management and First Aid/CPR.

In response to COVID-19 we have adapted our delivery model to ensure the health and safety of staff, instructors, and trainees. Many of our classes have moved to hybrid or fully online training.
To check out our spring professional development schedule or register for a class, visit our website at www.kvcc.me.edu/workforce or call Melissa at 207-453-5083.
To learn how you can train your team using a Maine Quality Center grant call Elizabeth at 207.453.5858 or visit us online at www.kvcc.me.edu/workforce.  
Quality of Place
Sponsored by MaineGeneral Health
MaineGeneral Health offers a number of ways for you to get care safely and quickly from your home, work, or anywhere! MaineGeneral gives you more options to get the health services you need. 

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Board of Directors:

Chris Gaunce, chair – Central Maine Motors Auto Group
Beth Gibbs, treasurer – Thomas College
Lucille Zelenkewich, secretary – Bar Harbor Bank and Trust

Terri Vieira – Northern Light Health - Inland Hospital
Erica Lacroix - Town of Winslow
Ryan Poulin - New Dimensions FCU
Elizabeth Fortin – Kennebec Valley Community College
Paul Stein – MaineGeneral Health
Steve Daly – City of Waterville
Gary Bowman – Town of Oakland
Michelle Flewelling – Town of Fairfield
Brian Clark – Colby College
Michael Runser – Valley Beverage
Allan Rancourt – Kennebec Federal Savings
Donald Plourde – Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate
Tom Meucci - Huhtamaki

Ex-Officio Board Members:

James Dinkle – Kennebec Regional Dev. Authority/ FirstPark
Ole Amundsen - Kennebec Valley Council of Governments
Christian Savage - Somerset Economic Development Corporation