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Starting a business from the ground up

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WELLS, Maine — John MacLeod was studying civil engineering at the University of New Hampshire for two weeks until the economy crashed in 2008. He was unable to secure financing and couldn’t afford to fall into debt. He had to find another career path.

“I looked at something that was low cost,” said MacLeod. “I figured a barrel, a rake, a truck, and ambition was easy enough to come by.”

He sold his motorcycle and Xbox for initial capital to start a landscaping business, enough to buy a used dump truck.

“The idea was that when I sold them I would someday buy them back,” said MacLeod. 

Eleven-years later he bought back the motorcycle and his crew has grown to about 14 employees. During the summer his staff swells to 25 and his company, J.K MacLeod Landscaping, services 300 properties. He credits his local bank for believing in him

“Difficult to find lenders these days that will really make your dream their own,” said Macleod. “It’s a gamble for sure if you look at the failure rate of small businesses.”

Starting a business from the ground up, Republik City News

Maine has 147,270 businesses. 99.2% are small businesses. In 3Q in 2017, Maine added 1,325 establishments

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No person in Maine knows that more than, Jeanne Hulit, the president and CEO of Maine Community Bank. On January 1, Biddeford Savings and Mechanic Savings Banks merged under the Maine Community Bank name.

Hulit worked at the U.S. Small Business Administration for five years and served as the acting director for 6 months under President Barack Obama.

“The state has more small businesses than any other state, as a per capita of businesses,” said Hulit. “Small businesses can come into the bank and talk to the lender and explain what they want to do and get the right debt structure so they are not taking on debt that would be detrimental to them.”

Starting a business from the ground up, Republik City News

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Hulit recommends those looking to start a business to take advantage of free resources in Maine through the SBA, the Small Business Development Center, SCORE and the Women’s Business Center.

“We know it’s the backbone of America, small business,” said MacLeod. “A lot of long days, a lot of trying to figure out how you are going to make it work but all the reward was really worth it.”

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