PORTLAND –  Senator Alfond (D-Cumberland County) attended two recent events that highlight the  importance of small businesses to our economy. On Wednesday night three Portland-based businesses were honored for their roles in helping to stimulate Portland’s economy, and on Thursday  Bangor Savings Bank was named as the overall top Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in Maine in 2011.

“Small businesses are making real difference in turning things around in Maine,” Senator Alfond said. “They have brought new jobs to the area in a tough economy.”

At the Wednesday event, about 200 people attended the Portland Development Corporation’s 16th annual business awards ceremony where the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau, the VIA Agency, and Planet Dog were honored as being outstanding small businesses.  Planet Dog received the 2011 Small Business of the Year award. Planet Dog,
which was founded in 1997, was cited for its support of local initiatives and donations to a wide variety of causes.

On Thursday, local spa Akari hosted an event where the Small Business Administration announced that Bangor Savings Bank was the largest provider of loans to small businesses in Maine , lending $14,889,050 in loans to 68 new or existing businesses.

In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011, Maine banks granted 393 SBA loans totaling $79 million to small businesses statewide. The SBA’s definition of a small business is one employing less than 500 workers. According to 2008 data, there are 147,484 small businesses in Maine, accounting for 59.7% of private-sector jobs in the state.

One of those small businesses is Akari, a beauty and wellness salon located in the heart of the Old Port. Access to SBA loans has helped Akari owner Allan Labos renovate a former bank building on Middle Street and significantly expand his services. The 3-story salon and day spa offers hundreds of loyal customers beauty, wellness and medi spa
services, along with a clothing boutique and elegant bistro. Akari currently employs 50 individuals.

For more information contact Senator Alfond’s office at 287-1515