YARMOUTH – A Yarmouth business owner who wants to expand his operation garnered some helpful information during a roundtable business discussion hosted on Dec. 10 by Mobilize Maine, a partnership of economic development districts that covers the state.

Gregory Greuel, who owns Wayside Publishing, said last Thursday that, thanks to what he learned at the Freeport meeting, he was about to contact the Maine Small Business Development Center in Portland. Greuel is looking for capital to grow Wayside Publishing, which produces school textbooks that are sold around the country.

“It was absolutely helpful,” said Greuel, a Freeport resident. “It helped with the understanding of the alphabet soup of the government agencies that are out there. I thought it was a great meeting.”

Jess Knox, chairman of Mobilize Maine, worked with Keith McBride, executive director of the Freeport Economic Development Corp., to arrange the roundtable discussion, held at Hilton Garden Inn. Marilyn Geroux, state director of the Small Business Administration, as well as Ann Marie Swenson of People’s United Bank and Sande Updegraph of the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce, were on had to provide information for the attendees.

Wayside Publishing, founded in 1988, is located at 50 Downeast Drive in Yarmouth. The company works with educators from institutions such as Harvard University, Columbia University and Middlebury College to produce their textbooks. Major printing houses produce the finished product.

“We work with authors and author teams to write the texts, then with editorial teams to lay them out and get them formatted for printing,” Greuel said. “Then comes the hard part, the marketing. Orders go out every day, especially in the summer. Right now, we’re gearing up for that.”

Greuel told the group that he is looking to expand his business, but having difficulty identifying capital.

“It’s difficult,” he said. “I’m always asked about collateral, an they always want to know about my personal belongings, instead of my business potential. It feels like the chicken and the egg.”

Brett Davis, owner of Brett Davis Real Estate in Freeport, said he runs into the same roadblock.

“I’m in a similar situation, I guess,” Davis said. “I do need to grow. I can’t afford to, but I can’t afford not to.”

Knox responded that Greuel and Davis are not at all in unusual situations.

“There are resources out there for you,” Knox said. “Running a business is a lonely effort. It’s hard, it’s lonely. Navigating the alphabet soup is a challenge.”

Lee Hews, owner of Current Publishing, which publishes Tri-Town Weekly, said she has gone to SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, many times for assistance as she grew her company.

Updegraph said she is on the lookout for more direct and easier access to financial resources that would be helpful to Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce members.

“I’m always looking for a good, comprehensive resource list,” said Updegraph, the chamber’s executive director. “It would be really helpful if there were a down-and-dirty list.”

Geroux responded that she is nearly finished with a brochure that has the information, and she intends to get them out to chambers of commerce throughout the state.

The roundtable in Freeport was the second such meeting of business owners, the first having taken place in Standish in October. Another is planned for Windham, and a time and location to be determined.

“They want to hear what’s going on with businesses, and their issues,” McBride said prior to the meeting. “We want their ideas, and to get them to collaborate. It’s more than just networking. It needs to be a focused discussion, although it’s very open-ended.”

McBride, who serves on a Mobilize Maine subcommittee, said that Mobilize Maine wants to continue doing just what it did to help Greuel at the Dec. 10 roundtable.

“Part of the strategy of Mobilize Maine is to is figuring out what the issues are that people are facing,” he said. “Is it capital, workforce, education, or what? We can propose different things and bring out ideas.”

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