|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||3||$1,725,530|
|Regional Innovation Strategies||2||$640,000|
Maine is a largely forested and rural state that has been hit hard with out-migration and losses in the paper mill and manufacturing sectors of the economy. New development opportunities are needed for Maine’s economic sustainability and resilience.
Working with numerous partners throughout the State, the Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network Expansion (Top Gun RANE) project aims to provide increased support for innovation-based, scalable businesses in Maine. Started in 2009, the non-industry specific entrepreneurship programs accelerate companies through training, mentorship, connections, and focusing on how to model a business accelerator for a rural state. In FY 2016, EDA invested $390,000 in Regional Innovation Strategies funds to the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development to fund its Top Gun RANE project.
The overall strategy is to increase the number of program graduates and to raise the level of entrepreneurs’ savvy for growing their business and securing outside investments. Key activities include expanding the program to a fourth location, improving the support system for the Maine Mentor Network, piloting introductory training called PreFlight, and developing new programming for post Top Gun companies. Top Gun RANE will also increase outreach and guidance for new companies entering the pipeline, and provide connections and training for companies to access grant funding and equity investments.
Top Gun RANE is one of the signature programs of the Maine Accelerates Growth initiative that has grown from three to 11 partners and represents a highly innovative model for achieving collaboration and sustainability. The success of Top Gun RANE depends on amassing high ambition companies across broad geographies, industries and stages of development to grow a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.