Portland, Maine

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Working In Portland

Portland is a community of sociable self-starters. People come here, or chose to stay here, to develop their craft, find talented collaborators, and build enduring businesses and discerning audiences. Here, good living and making a living go hand-in-hand. The following groups and resources are here to help you find your niche and make it work.

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Professional Groups

Ad Club of Maine offers its members professional development, networking opportunities, and recognition of creative excellence. The club hosts monthly meetings the bi-annual Broderson Awards.

AIA Maine is the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Maine AIGA is the local chapter of the leading national professional association for graphic designers.

Maine Film Festivals is an umbrella site that covers six individual film festivals and screening series in Maine, which they describes as “exactly 180 degrees from Hollywood.”

Maine Marketing Association provides marketing-related education and support to its members and to the region’s business community including networking, seminars and periodic Lunch & Learn programs on marketing, advertising and technology topics.

Maine Media Workshops in Rockport has week-long intensive workshops on cinematography, editing, photography, and other media-production related subjects, as well as a semester program.

Maine Nonprofit Community is an informal facebook group that seeks to advance creative ideas and connect citizens to to opportunities in the non-profit sector.

Maine Public Relations Council is a professional association of Maine public relations practitioners dedicated to the professional development of its members and to increased awareness of the value of public relations.

Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance supports writers and local publishers with regular meetings and workshops and hosts the the Maine Literary Awards.

MaineBytes.NET Developers Group holds monthly meetings with guest speakers for web developers and system architects who use Microsofts .NET platform.

Portland Greendrinks is the Portland outpost of the international social networking Greendrinks group started in London in 1989. The informal, volunteer-managed gatherings bring together a wide variety of people with a common interest in the natural environment. Greendrinks happen on the second Tuesday of every month, starting around 5:30 and are followed by randomly assigned Green lunches that Thursday.

Portland Society of Architects’ membership includes architects, engineers, landscape architects, design professionals, and individuals committed to the protection and enhancement of those aspects of urban design which contribute to Portland’s economic activity and cultural identity. Their work includes advocacy and educational programming open to everyone.

Reverb is a non-profit organization founded by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner (of the band Guster). Reverb provides greening programs and educational outreach for music tours.

Tech Maine hosts a wide variety of special interest and user groups on information technology, programming and web development topics. They also have a wide variety of tech-specific resources from education to job opportunities.

Each year, teams of filmmakers from Portland compete against each other, and then against teams from 86 other cities and countries to make the best film in just two days in The 48 Hour Film Project.

The Maine Association for Nonprofits offers professional skill development programs, affordable healthcare and benefits plans, discounts on related programs and services and advocacy resources, and is part of a national network of state associations.

The Maine Film Office is a government agency that facilitates the shooting of film and video projects in Maine locations. The Film Office is aided and advised by the Maine Film & Video Association, the state’s trade group for the media production industry.

The Maine Studios is one of the largest film studios in the Northeast, with over 43,000 square feet of production and office space. The principals of the studio also manage the non-profit Maine Film Collaborative and the Maine Film Fund.

The Telling Room is a non-profit community writing center for young writers ages six to eighteen. They have large group of committed adult volunteers, and hold new volunteer orientations each month.

ThinkTank co-working space on Exchange Street strives to be a literary hub in Portland, and encourages qualified individuals to be in touch about opportunities to host writing workshops, readings, and literary events as part of their Writer’s Exchange.

Incubators + Business Counseling

Casco Bay Technology Hub supports entrepreneurship, collaboration, networking, technology culture, eductation, recruiting and funding, as the epicenter for all things tech in Portland.

Common Good Ventures provides expert advice and hands-on guidance to the nonprofit sector to improve its performance, maximize its impact, and position it to successfully address the social and economic challenges facing those it serves.

Factory Portland provides business and marketing support for local bands and musicians.

Finance Authority of Maine has a Business Plan Writing and Development Guideand other resources to help Maine businesses acquire funding necessary for economic development.

Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development is part of a state-wide incubator, runs the Top Gun entrepreneurship accelerator, and is part of the Portland Innovation Hub funded by Blackstone Accelerates Growth.

Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community helps Maine women build skills, gain confidence, and develop professional networks.

Maine International Trade Center is a public-private nonprofit organization that helps Maine business increase their international trade in goods and services through trade missions and related activities.

Through the Maine Patent Program the Center offers technology transfer and patent assistance to scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs throughout Maine.

Maine Small Business Development Centers provide comprehensive business management assistance, training, resource and information services to small and technology-based businesses in Maine.

SCORE Maine provides free confidential business planning counseling, low cost workshops, and access to their extensive resource library.

Startup Portland is a "community of entrepreneurs, investors, technologists and creative misfits." Through their site and events, enterprising individuals can access the knowledge and resources to help their new ventures get off the ground, while supporting others who are doing the same.

USM’s Center for Law & Innovation hosts conferences on legal and business issues affecting various technology sectors, and sponsors regular forums and lectures on law and innovation.

Women’s Business Center at Coastal Enterprises Inc. supports women business owners and entrepreneurs through targeted training, business assistance and finance programs.

Co-working Spaces

Casco Bay Technology Hub is a Danforth Street space for Maine technology companies “to unite and inspire entrepreneurship and business growth through tech-centered events and business collaboration.”

Engine Room is a creative collaborative space where talented entrepreneurs, innovators, and collaborators come together to make it happen. In a building over 100 years old, this modern, open-concept space allows professionals to share their stimulating ideas with one another in an upbeat environment right on the fringe of Portland's Old Port.

Peloton Labs is a community workspace on Congress Street in Portland, designed as a co-working space for independent and creative business and civic professionals.

ThinkTank Portland is a co-working space on Congress Street for freelance writers, journalists, grad students, bloggers, architects, developers, graphic designers, and digital photographers.

Wycwah is a website dedicated to exploring the concept of co-working. It describes itself as a collaborative space for digital creatives: Web designers, programmers, writers, videographers—anyone who uses bits and bytes to make something happen.

Investment + Incentives

The City of Portland’s Economic Development Division has a Creative Economy Loan Fund and a Micro Business Fund, contact Gregory A. Mitchell, (207) 874-8683, to find out more.

Maine & Company is a private, non-profit corporation that provides free and confidential services to companies locating to or growing in Maine. Resources include real estate site searches, data collection and analysis, incentives identification and valuation, site visit coordination, and financing coordination through their Maine Investment Exchange (MIX).

Maine Angels is a group of private investors interested in investing in and mentoring promising early-stage companies in Maine. The group generally meets on the 4th Friday of each month to review investment opportunities.

The Portland Region Chamber of Commerce has a useful guide to many local and regional resources available to help businesses move to or grow in Portland. The chamber also provides access to group health insurance for small businesses and sole proprietors. If you are thinking of starting a business in Portland, there are a variety of Federal, State, and municipal governmental resources that can assist you. The City of Portland has a Business Start-Up Checklist that provides links and contact information. The City of Portland also has major development initiatives focusing on the arts district and a new biotech center/technology park. For a definitive collection of Portland info go to the City’s directory of facts and links.

The state of Maine has many economic development resources available to businesses. This year, Maine has expanded its Pine Tree Development Zone program to include businesses in Portland in a wide variety of sectors. Contact Portland area representative Brian Doyle at the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development (207-822-0186 or brian.doyle@maine.gov) to find out about tax incentives, reduced utility rates, help finding office space and more. There are also dedicated venture capital funds and other funding sources that specifically invest in growing businesses in Maine and the Northeast.

All municipalities in Maine, including the City of Portland can elect to offer businesses Tax Increment Financing incentives that help provide financing for infrastructure investments that will lead to increased tax valuations and related economic development benefits.

The State of Maine also has a variety of Tax Reimbursement Programs including Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement, Employment Tax Increment Financing, Pine Tree Development Zones (which as of 2010 include Portland) and Technology Tax Credits. As a further incentive to encourage small business startups, FAME offers the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit Program.

There are a number of VC funds that specifically invest in the Northeast including: Great Bay FoundationBorealis VenturesBrook Venture PartnersCEI VenturesMasthead Venture PartnersNorth Atlantic Capital and Spinnaker Trust.

How to Find Office/Workspace

Craigslist has constantly updated listings for office spaces in Portland. Although there are some properties for sale, most of the listings are for smaller, less expensive rentals than what you will find with commercial brokers.

Maine & Company is a private, non-profit corporation that provides free and confidential services to companies locating to or growing in Maine. Resources include real estate site searches, data collection and analysis, incentives identification and valuation, site visit coordination, and financing coordination through their Maine Investment Exchange (MIX).

Maine Real Estate Today has all the commercial classified ads (including businesses and business equipment and vehicles for sale) that run in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and the other MaineToday Media’s newspapers. Use the keyword “Portland” to get local listings.

New England Commercial Property Exchange (NECPE), powered by Catylist, is the regional hub of most comprehensive free real estate search service for commercial properties to buy or lease on the web.