The city of Auburn’s latest economic development initiative, a business incubator at a new Staples Connect retail store, could one day be replicated across the country, Mayor Jason Levesque said on Monday.
The idea for Startup Auburn came quickly, he said, as he and Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce president Shanna Cox prepared to cut the ribbon for the new store, which has gone from being across the river in Lewiston to the old OfficeMax this month. .
“My biggest problem when I started my business was that I had no money, an old laptop and my living room; there was no coworking space, ”said Levesque, who grew Argo Marketing to 600 employees in three countries before selling it in 2018.
With Startup Auburn, three entrepreneurs will be chosen by January 1 to receive four months of private office space, a $ 500 Staples gift certificate, and a one-year membership in the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for get their ideas off the ground.
The chamber and Staples are also partners in the effort.
It is open to residents of Auburn. Applications will open next week at goauburn.me.
The new 24,000 square foot Staples Connect has 1,500 square feet dedicated to A common workspace with private offices and dedicated, open seating and a large conference room, according to a spokesperson.
The space can be rented by the day or by the month, or together with the conference room, by the hour.
For the contest, Levesque asked Staples to rent three cabins for three months. He said they liked the idea so much that Staples turned the space into private offices, covered a fourth month and added the gift certificates.
“This is only the second coworking space of this size and scale (by Staples) in the country; the other is in Los Angeles, so they really think there’s a huge need for that, and they’re right, ”Levesque said. “We can run this pilot, see how it works, track it and if it is successful, we will just continue to deploy it so that there are always three dedicated offices available to Auburn contractors. “
The three spaces will cost the city $ 3,600 in that first round, which, while potentially launching three new businesses, is an “incredibly strong” return on investment, he said.
“I will also work with contractors, because that is part of the package,” said Lévesque. “I’m going to dust off all my old marketing knowledge, my communication skills and work with these people as a mentor, which I’ve always wanted to do. “
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