BRUNSWICK — The Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced a $3 million economic development initiative in Maine this morning at an event at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Called Blackstone Accelerates Growth, the program will provide grants to support the state’s existing entrepreneurship and business innovation programs.

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The Blackstone Charitable Foundation estimates the program could create 10,000 jobs in 10 years.
Attending the event were Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, R-Maine, U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and others.

“We have fallen behind as a country, and we need to reinvigorate ourselves,” said Schwarzman to a crowd of roughly 200 businesspeople, academics and nonprofit leaders. “We’ve got to focus on creating jobs.”

The foundation expects the initiative will create jobs through the financial support and expansion of programs that teach businesspeople and students about innovation, entrepreneurship and small-business management.

Among the programs that will benefit from the grant are the University of Maine’s Innovation Engineering Jump Start and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s five-month Top Gun program.

The grants will also support an internship program at the University of Maine and help cover education enrollment costs for 250 companies and individuals.