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PR: Dirigo Labs Selected by International Economic Development Council (IEDC) as Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) Host Community  

February 13, 2024

Waterville-based Accelerator Receives Nationally Competitive Selection to Support Entrepreneurship and Investment

Waterville, ME 2/13/2024 

Dirigo Labs has been selected to receive an Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) fellow to research an investment arm for the Waterville-based accelerator. The program, created by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), is designed to promote projects that build up underserved communities through knowledge-sharing between urban, rural, and tribal areas across the U.S. Of more than 500 applications received nationwide, Dirigo Labs was successful in securing a fellow for a 2.5-year contract period.

“This recognition is a testament to our unwavering commitment to fostering innovation and economic growth throughout the State of Maine. At Dirigo Labs, we have long prioritized the establishment of a robust investment arm to further support and nurture the endeavors of talented entrepreneurs; it brings me great joy to see this vision coming to fruition as we embark on a journey to model an investment platform that not only fuels groundbreaking ideas but also propels Maine-based entrepreneurs in their ventures,” said Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin. “We are delighted to extend a warm welcome to Erika Haskins, who joins us with her wealth of experience and passion for supporting impactful projects. Together, we are poised to make a lasting impact on the entrepreneurial landscape.” 

The “Modeling an Investment Arm for Dirigo Labs” initiative will focus on the issue of access to capital for startups and entrepreneurs in Maine. Over the next 30 months, Erika Haskins, Dirigo Labs’ ERC Fellow, will research and develop an investment model for local startups to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in Waterville and beyond while liaising with prospective funding partners and investors. 

“Erika’s involvement in supporting research efforts to bolster Maine-based entrepreneurs aligns seamlessly with Dirigo Labs’ commitment to fostering inclusive economic growth,” expresses Dirigo Labs Program Manager Emalee Hall. “We are eager to demonstrate that, through strategic insights and collaborative initiatives, we can further our mission as a catalyst for growth and innovation within Maine’s burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem; this marks an exciting chapter for Dirigo Labs, as we continue to strengthen our dedication to positive change and create a lasting impact in supporting the entrepreneurial spirit in Waterville.”

Of the 65 host projects located across 44 states, this recognition positions the Waterville-based accelerator to continue to foster economic recovery and innovation. The program’s emphasis on knowledge-sharing between urban, rural, and tribal areas aligns seamlessly with Dirigo Labs’ vision of inclusive growth. This collaboration opens doors to a wealth of possibilities, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas and strategies that have the potential to leave a lasting impact on communities across the United States.

“The valuable partnership between Dirigo Labs, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) signifies a convergence of expertise, resources, and a shared commitment to fostering economic growth in underserved communities. Dirigo Labs, as a recipient of the Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) fellow, exemplifies our collective dedication to driving positive change through innovative projects, and the continued support from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s EDA underscores the significance of cross-sector collaboration in building resilient ecosystems,” adds Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning, Innovation, and Economic Development Garvan Donegan. “These partnerships amplify our capacity to create meaningful impact, promoting knowledge-sharing and economic empowerment across urban, rural, and tribal areas throughout the State of Maine and beyond.”

About Dirigo Labs: 

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow mid-Maine’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org

About IEDC:

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,300 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in the full range of economic development practices. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in various settings, including local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at iedconline.org.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration:

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federaleconomic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S.  Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Last modified: February 21, 2024

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